The personal growth of the individual.
The Jolly Corner: Brydon is forced to grow up with his return to America by overcoming his fears as well as falling in love. He learned to let go of his past insecurities and come face to face with himself, something he feared doing because he was not entirely proud of who he was. He also learned to trust another person and allow her into the deepest corners of his heart where is the most susceptible to be hurt. However he allows her there anyway, which is a testament of his growth (James 1908).
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Stephen grows as an individual through his growing opinions of different yet very influential institutions in his life. His ability to form an opinion on his own based on the personal experiences he had is a sign of maturity and growth. Furthermore, his decision to leave and pursue his desire to express himself in other lands also shows his growth as he is gaining the courage to try new things in new places.
Untouchable: Bakha’s growth is related to his view of his personal situation. He wants to grow in status to be higher than an untouchable. He also wants to be given the respect he does not get in his home or community and so he worships the British and their ability to take power. The novel looks at various solutions to his problems, which include the acceptance of a new religion (something he dismisses), a voice on behalf of the Untouchables (something he is interested in) and the introduction of a flushing toilet (which he believes will solve his problems). The novel does not give a definite answer as to whether he will continue to be engrossed with the British or if he will listen to Gandhi’s words and fight for his respect. However we do get to see that a spark has been lit, and perhaps as time goes on it can be assumed that the spark turns into a full-fledged fire. Bakha must grow as an individual to truly understand Gandhi’s words in his situation however the reader can see that he has come a long way from where he was in the beginning (Anand 1935).
Their Eyes Were Watching God: Janie’s relationship with the three men gave her experiences she would not have otherwise seen. She grows by learning to become an independent individual and how to become a woman, rather than just a girl. With each new significant relationship she enters and leaves, she learns something from it, growing as a person (Hurston 1937).
Granted, many of these examples of personal growth can also be argued as a sign of lack of growth. However it is all perspective. To some, making the decision to leave one’s homeland to explore and discover is a sign of growth but to others, it may be a sign of immaturity and lack of dedication or responsibility. However it can also arguably be a sign of growth or the desire to grow. It is all about perspective. I think this is apparent and recurring in all of the above examples.