Barry Hines' Novel A Kestrel for a Knave

Categories: Novel

'Kes' or 'A Kestrel for a Knave' contains a story about a normal teenaged boy named Billy Casper. Billy's life is turned around after he obtains a young hawk and trains it. This essay covers all the main effects that the hawk had on Billy, such as how he took it upon himself to train the hawk responsibly, how training the hawk gained him self-respect in many aspects, how Billy becomes separated, isolated from the world, and how the hawk caused him problems.

Kes affected Billy's life in many ways, for good and for bad.

Some of the best things Kes did for Billy, were helping Billy to achieve success, through means of; training Kes, giving successful talks in school, earning respect with his classmates and Mr Farthing and finally gaining self-respect. Comments from Mr Farthing like these show that he admires and respects Billy and his kestrel. For instance; when Billy stands up in class and gives his speech on training Kes, Mr Farthing refers to Billy as an expert; '"Yes, yes.

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I suspected as much when he made it look so simple. " "It's not Sir." "But that's the mark of an expert isn't it. Someone who makes a difficult skill look easy? "' This shows that he considers Billy as an expert, but says it to Billy subtly. Also Mr Farthing believes that Billy is learned in the skill of training kestrels as he follows his instructions, showing that although he is a teacher, he does not know best in this situation - '"Keep looking away Sir, they don't like being stared at, Hawks.

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" "Right, best do as you say. " These show that Mr Farthing has some respect for Billy.

Another aspect of Billy achieving success, is when he - not the brightest of all people, takes a book (even though he stole it) and reads it thoroughly and applies the knowledge he gained from it, to real life, through the means of Kes. A quote showing this is when Jud finds out about Billy's reference book and almost quizzes Billy on what he has learned from it; '"It's smashing! I've been reading it all afternoon. I'm nearly half way through all ready. " "An' what better off will tha be when tha's read it? " "A lot, cos I'm going to get a young kestrel an' train it"'

This clearly shows that Billy will use his book for reference to train Kes (it shows this in the quote above, where Billy tells Mr Farthing the information he has gained from his book). The book he 'borrows' helps him lead a very detailed and successful speech in school, and earns the respect of Mr Farthing (as it shows in the first quote). Here is a quote that shows that the class seem interested in some way in Billy's story. '"Do you want to hear more about it? " (Chorus) "Yes Sir". Mr Farthing smiled and turned back to Billy, "Carry on Casper"'.

This quote proves that Mr Farthing and the rest of class would like to hear more about Billy's story. The speech gives Billy self-respect as this shows; '"Baiting? What's that? " "Trying to fly off" "How do you spell it? " "B-A-I-T-I-N-G" "Carry on"' and also Billy stands up by himself to talk about Kes - '"You'd best come up here then. " Billy stood up and walked to the front of the class' These two quotes have lead me to believe that Billy became more self-confident, and if it wasn't for Kes, he would not have been able to stand up and give the speech and therefore not have gained the self-confidence that he does now.

The speech that Billy gave to the class about training Kes shows that Billy has learnt a lot from his book, and also shows that he trained Kes well. An obvious example of how well Billy had trained Kes is when Mr Farthing meets Billy flying/training Kes for the first time - "Goodness. Not very friendly is it! It seems alright with you though. " This defiantly shows that the time and effort Billy spent in training Kes has paid off, as Kes recognises Billy as her owner/trainer, and no one else. Another benefit of Billy having Kes is that Billy becomes more responsible.

Examples of these are; Billy paying his court fines, Billy caring for Kes and Billy keeping himself out of trouble. The most obvious and clearest example of Billy paying his court fines and showing he's becoming more responsible, is when ironically he's getting into trouble by Mr Sugden; "Get a job then Billy. " "I've got one Sir. " "Well then, you get paid don't you? " "Yes Sir. But I have to gi' it to me mum. I'm still paying her for my court fines, like instalments every week. " Even though Billy is in trouble for not bringing his kit; it still shows that he is responsible for paying his fines.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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Barry Hines' Novel A Kestrel for a Knave. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

Barry Hines' Novel A Kestrel for a Knave essay
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