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A Kestrel for a Knave

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Introduction

A Kestrel for a Knave For this assignment, I shall be looking at Barry Hines' novel 'A Kestrel for a Knave'. The story focuses on a day in the life of Billy Casper, a fifteen-year-old schoolboy growing up in an environment lacking in many ways. In this assignment I am to look at examples of deprivation in the various areas of Billy Casper's life. Barry Hines writes about a young boy growing up in the 1960's. Despite the fact that the Welfare State had been in place for over twenty years, Hines' novel sheds much light on the kind of life some children still had to live, in order to survive in societies that should have been well developed. The text writes in extensive detail about how a boy like Billy had to live, and I felt quite sympathetic towards Billy - for him having to endure so much abuse in one day. Considering the Welfare State had been firmly in place for two decades, reading this novel opened my eyes to how some families had to live. Barry Hines was a teacher and he would have had first hand experience of what life was like for some children of the era. Maybe, through such a novel, Hines hoped to raise awareness by outlining the poor standards in which people were living. I shall now therefore like to explore ways in which Billy's life lacked. Firstly I am going to write about how Billy's life lacked within the home. I found that Billy was heavily denied of material possessions. For example - quite early on in the text - we learn Billy is deprived of the basic necessities of food. 'There were a packet of dried peas and a half-bottle of vinegar on the shelves. The bread bin was empty.' Such extreme circumstances caused Billy to steal; he stole a box of eggs, a chocolate bar and some milk. ...read more.

Middle

Furthermore, during assembly, we witness Mr.Gryce's indifference to the fact that someone has a cough- showing the general indifference felt towards pupils' health and well-being. In Billy's registration sessions, he is not given a chance in which children of today are given the encouragement to develop self-pride, self-respect and support. Billy is left to have his self-respect wiped away by the cruel teachers with who constantly criticise him. The teachers do not act in any way that would improve the dreadful situation at home. He is given no sort of role-model, he is bullied and abused constantly by both staff and pupils; emotionally insulted by the games teacher when he is made to wear old women's bloomers for a football game. Billy finds himself culturally deprived, in the way that he finds himself unable to become a member of the library - and so, once again, this gives Billy no option but to steal from a bookshop in order to teach himself how to train Kes. Jud does not in any way encourage Billy's self-teaching, he treats his brother's possessions with no respect and furthermore, Jud throws the falconry book across the room after criticizing Billy's wish to learn by himself. Billy is socially deprived and, from the book, we do not notice any evidence of any kind of extended family with which could support Billy. We find that his neighbours are indifferent towards his familial situation. 'Ee, what a family that is'. Hine's writes of how Billy is environmentally deprived. Billy's immediate environment - his neighbourhood - is described as a 'snotty sleeve'. However, when Billy takes walks into the fields we witness some beautiful descriptions of this natural environment he loves so much. In fact, Hines describes this beautiful environment for several pages in order to emphasise Billy's love of the countryside. Concluding this section of my essay, I feel that all the above factors contribute to the extreme amount of deprivation Billy is made to endure. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, we also see Billy's negative aspects - his readiness to cry, his cheeky attitude and his dirtiness. Giving us an unbiased representation of Billy makes this character seem more real and this way we can learn to love him and pity him for what he truly is. Also, in terms of character, Hines portrays even the nasty characters in a way that could help the reader understand the causes of their bad behaviour. For example we may put Jud's evil behaviour toward Billy down to jealousy as in one of Billy's memories, whilst Billy is taken out to the cinema by his father, Jud is left behind to sit and play in the car outside the house - while presumably the mother is inside the house preoccupied with a boyfriend. Similarly, My.Gryce's cold and cruel attitude could be understandable since we learn that, whilst he's worked at the school for over thirty-five years, he's been working there with nothing and has been shown no respect: "I thought I understood young people, I should be able to with all my experience, yet there's something happening today that's frightening, that makes me feel that it's all been a waste of time... Like it's a waste of time standing here talking to you boys, because you won't take a blind bit of notice what I'm saying". Another characteristic Hines uses in order to create an effective novel is the person in which it is written. Hines writes the novel in third person, however he does not write as an omniscient author. I think this is a powerful way to put across the characters, since by this technique not even we, the sympathetic readers, are allowed into Billy's thoughts, giving the heightened feeling of isolation and loneliness Billy is made to endure. In conclusion, I feel that Billy Hines was successful in conveying the issue of deprivation through the use of the novel 'A Kestrel for a Knave' and therefore brought about the need for change effectively. ...read more.

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