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What does the visit to Hang Wood show the reader about Hooper and Kingshaw?

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Introduction

Hang Wood: What does the visit to Hang Wood show the reader about Hooper and Kingshaw? These three chapters form an important central point in the novel. The two boys face one another, away from the adult world, in a place where they have to rely on themselves and one another for survival. The writer establishes the danger they are in by indicating that the wood runs into a much larger forest. If they have wandered into this forest, they may not be found for some time. The psychological warfare between the two boys takes on an interesting twist inside Hang Wood, because Kingshaw discovers areas of strength within himself that he had not previously been aware of, as well as areas of weakness in Hooper. Is it a normal boy's inability to understand another's inner torment? Hooper seems to have the upper hand when Kingshaw first realises that he has followed him into the wood. Kingshaw senses his own weakness that comes from always having had to be polite to the people in whose houses he and his mother have had to stay. His sense of happiness and relaxation at being alone in the wood has been destroyed. Kingshaw comes close to Hooper and suddenly realises that, behind his 'robot', non-emotional shell, he is human, after all. ...read more.

Middle

Both children have suffered the death of a parent and both have been subjected to lengthy absences from home when they are away at boarding school. After Hooper falls down a steep bank 'unhurt', they find a stream, and Kingshaw wonders whether the presence of water may change things. But, even after this, Hooper easily takes hold of his uncontrollable power once more. "There's a stream or something, I can hear it down there. I'm going to try and find it" He knows that Hooper is afraid to continue through the forest alone, whereas he, Kingshaw, feels quite capable of doing so. "Right, I can hear it, it's over there. I'll go first because I'm leader" They follow the stream, but it seems to lead deeper and deeper into the forest. Hooper suggests having a swim in a pool, and discovers Kingshaw's fear of water. "Are you scared Kingshaw?" For a brief, hopeful moment, the boys play together in the pool. Kingshaw has discovered that he is not afraid after all, and feels strong and confident. He seems to have found his element in the water. Kingshaw shows his practical leadership, but Hooper is too clever for him and reasserts his old superior manner. It is at this point that Kingshaw realises that he is, and always will be, the loser. ...read more.

Conclusion

Unlike other characters in the novel, Kingshaw feels no sense of danger or evil in the wood. The only evil and malevolence he experiences are found in his fellow human beings. This emphasises the suggestion that the wood is a kind of paradise or Eden. It is humans who disturb this peace with their cruelty or indifference. This is dramatically illustrated at this point in the novel by the crashing sounds of the adults coming to find them and return them to 'society'. Although this section of the novel is focusing on the feelings of these two young boys, the adults' complete inability to see the truth about Hooper, and their willingness to take Hooper's side against Kingshaw, even to the extent of believing his version of events without giving any credence to Kingshaw's version at all. Why is there no higher authority that he can call upon? Why do the parents in this novel offer no help to the victim? Why is Hooper always believed, while Kingshaw is dismissed, even by his own mother? Kingshaw is alone, trapped and helpless. He is the victim of Hooper's superior ability to manipulate others. Equally importantly, however, Kingshaw is the victim of his own spontaneous emotional reactions, which, after all, are those of an 11-year-old boy. He lacks Hooper's cold, calculating cunning. Hooper is able to evoke a blind rage in Kingshaw which he then uses to trap him and discredit him in the adults' eyes. ...read more.

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