Honors Program

Honors in English

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Karen Kornweibel

Thesis Professor Department

Literature and Language

Thesis Reader(s)

Carson Medley


Tamora Pierce’s work has been cited by many Young Adult fantasy authors as a major influence in recent years. Despite this, her work remains relatively obscure among librarians and readers of Young Adult literature. This paper examined one of Pierce’s Young Adult fantasy series, Protector of the Small, by comparing the series to existing works of Young Adult fantasy literature commonly accepted as classic or canonical literature. Among the comparative works were titles authored by C. S. Lewis, J. K. Rowling, and Philip Pullman. Comparison was character-focused, with emphasis on the representation of parents, other sympathetic adults, peers, and family units. Some comparison was also focused on the representation of antagonists in the selected works. The aim of the comparative analysis was to serve as a guide for librarians, teachers, and readers of Young Adult literature to better understand potential target audiences for the Protector of the Small quartet. It was found that target audiences for the series would likely seek or benefit from the Protector of the Small quartet’s inclusion of supportive parental and mentor figures, strong familial bonds, and supportive and communicative peers. Target audiences would also seek literature with nuanced antagonists capable of character growth. Most prominently, target audiences would seek Young Adult fantasy literature that addresses real-world issues and challenges for young women, including sexism, puberty, and reproductive healthcare.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.


Copyright by the authors.