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 choco...
... middle of paper ...
... 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.
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