Every day millions of teens wake up afraid to go to school or afraid to walk outside there own door. Bullying is a huge problem in our modern society and it affects millions of students in a though way. The main theme in this short story is bullying. The short story is questioning what the consequences of bullying are and what the consequences of bullying can have, to a persons adult life. As a child Lewis was a victim of two bullies, the most of his childhood he spent looking over his shoulder, being afraid of being bullied. Now where he is a witness to the bullying of Paul Fry, his old inner demons are coming up again. When Lewis tries to help Paul Fry it fails, he tries to help by writing notes about what he has seen and by going to the headmaster. When it fails for Lewis, it sends him into something similar to a depression. He escapes from his life as a teacher and as a boyfriend to Anna, he turns back to his childhood home to live with his mother and tries to fight back the inner demons and dreams about his childhood problems.
The short story is told in an omniscient third person narrator and it is through Lewis’ point of view, that we see the events in the short story. We get Lewis’ thoughts and feelings through the omniscient narrator, the rest of the story is told by Lewis’ perspective. Lewis is an English teacher and he lives with his girlfriend, Anna, in the middle of England. We hear about Lewis’ adult life in the short story, but also flashbacks about his childhood stories. We will have to understand his childhood story, if we do not understand his childhood story, we will not understand his adult life either. His whole life his mother had told him that if something went wrong, then he should run away, escape. “But he took her words literally, became expert at running away.” (p. 10, l. 71 – 72) Even his mother thinks that problems are going to be solved by running away, “They had fled his step-father, a man who was too handy with his hands, his mother said. She said they’d run away to the end of the earth.” (p. 10, l. 89 – 90), when Lewis sees his mother running away every time a problem confronts her, he will thinks it is the right way to handle the problems.
When Lewis thinks the two bullies are after him at the beach, he feels like he has to run and in the end that he has to jump, he thinks that nobody can help him. When he is in the hospital, he tries to tell his mother about the bullying, but she does not believe him, she thinks that the two boys saved her sons life. The traumatic episode has placed a scar in Lewis’ soul, he still suffers from the episode in his adult life. He ran away from it all, to try to forget about the beach and his childhood, “He has spent his adult life in the heart of England, at the very core of the city, as if putting himself in the dense center of a world would protect him from another fall off the edge.” (p. 8, l. 13 – 15). Lewis tries to forget the beach and the bullying, but the episode is psychologically stuck with him. Paul Fry is the one who triggers Lewis’ development. He triggers Lewis’ inner feelings and thoughts about the time when he was bullied. Paul is also a victim of bullying.
He is different than the other pupils, he is weak and feminine, “Lewis only noticed the boy because he hadn’t made it to this stage: his shoes remained shiny, and his blazer was smeared with wiped-off chalk and streams of dried spit.” (p. 9, l. 49 – 50). It is not completely clear what happens to Paul Fry, but it is somewhat serious, either a serious accident or he might be dead. Anna, Lewis’ girlfriend, tells Lewis, that Paul Fry is like an obsession to him, she is getting tired of him and tells him, that he needs to stop his obsession. Paul Fry is living the same life as Lewis lived and that is what obsesses Lewis because he wants to help him. Lewis sees himself in Paul and identifies himself in his actions. Lewis is at his mother’s house when he thinks back to his own childhood and thinks back to the episode with Paul Fry.
There are different flashbacks in the short story, they are used to show different things and episodes. One of the flashbacks is used to show us, why Lewis is at his mother’s place, another one is, when Anna stops listening to what Lewis tells her about Paul Fry, the flashback is used to show the an obsession with Paul. There is also a flashback about the way Lewis mother treated him when he was a child and who he is as an adult. The most important flashback is the one on the beach.
It describes how Lewis felt when he was running away, it also describes the feelings Lewis had, when he felt like he had to jump. In the end of the short story Lewis decides, that there is no more running away. He confronts his inner demons and dreams about the episode at the beach. Through his childhood he has been collecting pebbles and the stones can probably symbolize the problems and the fear that he has been building up through the years. Now in the end when he has overcome his fear, he throws the stones in to the sea, to throw away his memories and his past.