KARYA DOSEN Fakultas Sastra UM, 2010

Ukuran Huruf:  Kecil  Sedang  Besar


Irna Fibianti




Although space and place used to be neglected in the realm of identity theorization, they are now considered as an integral component in understanding identity. Space is closely related to identity construction. Experts argue that space is social construction while the social itself is being spatially organized. Space and place are differentiated by virtue of their attached meanings. The relations between place and people are considered reciprocal and dynamic. Place identity, as one of the emerging concepts that explores the links between people and place, is defined as one of the dimensions of the self that define one’s identity related to the physical environment. Places are important sources of identity elements because places have symbols that have meaning and significance to people. People use space to forge a sense of attachment. They form positive and negative bonds to places that have been given meanings through interaction. People also use narrative account to develop their spatial identity. For example, when people tell stories about places they imply multiple meanings and associations derived from their experience. Spatial identity, like identity in general, is constructed through difference. Thus, place is also saturated with meanings and ideas of otherness which justify exclusion.

The Dare Game demonstrates how identity and place are closely related. Tracy’s strong yearning for a home makes the development of her identity to be constructed around home. The Dare Game illustrates how people construct places while their social life is regulated by spaces. Tracy happens to have three possible places where she can make her home, an abandoned house, her biological mother’s home, and her foster mother’s home. In order to make those places her home, Tracy actively constructs her place identity around them.  Tracy has constructed and internalized certain meanings and symbols associated with home, like sense of belonging, safety, and comfort. She seeks and attributes these meanings into those places. Her emotional identification with those places result in place attachment for those places. Her place attachment is not only characterized by positive bonds toward the places, but also by negative bonds which display the complex and ambivalent nature of spatial identity construction.

Because home has been a central theme in children’s literature, it is important to compare the portrayals of home in The Dare Game with the image of home in children’s literature in general. It turns out that The Dare Game both challenges and enforces the clichéd image of home. It indicates the complex and fractured nature of cultural products, including children’s literature. The Dare Game enforces the cultural cliché that home is where the family is. However, it also challenges the cliché that biological family is better than adoptive family as Tracy chooses her foster parent over her birth parent. Mostly, the book enforces the romantic cliché of home, such as children’s need and longing for an ideal home where they feel safe and happy, the fatal contradiction of staying and leaving home, and the gendered space of home as a place dedicated for women and children.