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Malarkey by Keith Gray : Personal study

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Personal Study : Malarkey. In the novel Malarkey, the author Keith Gray has made the theme of conflict prominent through key incidents and characterisation. There are several key events in the story that gradually reveal this conflict as the story goes on. The conflict can also be seen through characterisation. Therefore through these two areas of the novel - characterisation and key incidents/events - we can explore the central theme of the storyline, conflict. The theme of conflict starts in the first few pages of the novel. There is a key incident when John Malarkey... the main character is attacked in the school corridor, and has his bag stolen from him. A quote from this section is - "I tried to turn round but was thumped hard between the shoulders and pushed face first to sprawl on the wet floor" This is when the whole story gets going... "Malarkey" is targeted in the school corridor, singled out, pushed on the floor and has his bag taken from him. This starts the whole story, particularly the conflict side of it. ...read more.


So, John Malarkey is now trying to find out more about the people who stole his bag. He eventually figures out it is a gang. He shows this by remarking. "It was a gang - had to be." Malarkey then goes after this gang trying to find out more about them... but gets deeper and deeper into their world. The leader of the gang is called Freddie Cloth. Malarkey is speaking about him here. "...murderous perhaps? Maybe he'd want to give me more than just a few bruises." From this we can see there is a conflict brewing between the Tailor Gang and John Malarkey. This conflict deepens yet further when the Tailor Gang set Malarkey up once again. This time they pretend he can join the gang, and bring him along to gatecrash a party. Once he is inside they call the police and leave him in the house to be arrested. "I heard strong coppers voices at the bottom of the stairs. I went out the window." Luckily Malarkey escapes, but only just. This deepens his hate for the Tailor Gang and especially Freddie Cloth. ...read more.


At one point in the book Becky and John Malarkey kiss. "When she stepped up to me again, when she kissed me, I didn't even stop her." The relationship with all the other characters is really just conflict. He doesn't have many friends at Brook High School because he is new... and the teachers certainly aren't on his side. His relationship with Freddie Cloth is summed up in this comment when he is talking to him on the phone. "I'll steal your girlfriend, then I'll bring down your whole gang. You won't know what hit you." John Malarkey's relationship with the rest of the gang is similar. Violence and conflict. His relationship with the teachers is rather brief. He has a few "conversations" with teachers when they are telling him off or trying to find information... but generally, he tries to spend most of his time running away from most of the teachers after him. He doesn't want to just give in... he isn't prepared to hand himself in and get expelled from school. So, as we can see from these key events and some aspects of characterisation, the theme of conflict is central to the storyline. Keith Gray has made the theme of conflict prominent by portraying it through key events and characterisation. ...read more.

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