Coming of Age in Simple Gift, Catch Me if You Can and Harvey Krumpet

Categories: Catch Me If You Can
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The verse novel The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick, the film Catch Me If You Can by Steven Spielberg and the short film Harvey Krumpet by Adam Elliot all communicate aspects about the elective “Into the world”. The variety of texts deal with aspects of growing up and transitions into new phases of an individuals life such as achieving independence which shows the importance of responsibility when in an adult world; the characters attempt to redeem themselves, relationships, which show their love and friendship with other people, and the problems of growing up whilst surviving in an adult world and coping with the sorrow when someone you love dies or leaves.

In all three texts the protagonists’ main issues all arise from their inability to live at home any longer. Billy, Frank and Harvey all leave home to escape an intolerable situation at home. While these transitions into new phases of the characters’ lives help them to escape the sad memories from their former childhood they soon find out that living an independent life does have its own problems.

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They all enjoy a great deal of their new situation but they also realise that they have to face the responsibilities that come with leaving home on their own.

Some of the problems that the protagonists’ face are problems of survival e.g. parting with loved ones; finding a ride out of town; a place to sleep. In the Simple Gift Billy’s problems are quickly overcome as he finds an empty train carriage, which he calls “My Motel Bendarat”.

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From there he finds a river where he can wash himself; a farm where he can pick fruit and work, and a nearby McDonalds where he goes to eat other people’s leftovers. Harvey situation is very similar as he too finds the simplest home he can afford which supplies him with all his living needs. Frank problems like Billy’s are initially easily overcome but unlike Billy’s they are continuous. For Frank finding a place to stay in hard because he is always running away from the authorities and cant stay in the one place for more than two weeks. This means he is always looking for a new place to stay; new cloth’s to buy and new identities to become. Frank overcomes these problems with the money he creates from cashing his counterfeit cheques, these entitle him to stay places and buy new clothes. his confident personality also enables him to fool people into thinking he is somebody else, such as a pilot.

Although there are problems in their new independent lives this independence also brings benefits. Neither Billy or Frank has to attend school, which they hate; all three characters are able to go off and learn in ways they find best. Billy uses the library to learn from reading books, Harvey uses everyday life to learn by collecting facts and Frank uses people’s experiences and movies to learn, and all of them can escape the unpleasant experiences, which they left behind.

The responsibilities of living by themselves are all related to survival in an adult’s world. For them to become successful they need to become independent enough look after themselves. Even though Harvey doesn’t choose the healthiest life style he still is able to care himself and his family. The use of repetition in the Simple Gift creates meaning in the novel to show Billy’s maturity in taking responsibility for being able to live in an adults world by himself. “I’m poor, homeless, but I’m not stupid”

The search for redemption that is displayed throughout all the texts by the protagonists’ is a main aspect of their transitions into an independent lifestyle. Billy’s life is redeemed through his relationships, which lead him into a loving relationship, a job and a house to live in. Frank redeems himself by realising that what he is doing is an immature approach to his problems and tries to fix the situation. Harvey’s life is fully continuous disasters and he constantly redeems himself by finding selfmotivation to come back strong.

While the protagonists’ escapes the unhappy relationship that they leave behind they all eventually enter new ones. Billy finds himself leaving his unhappy relationship with his father and quickly he finds himself in two new relationships. He becomes good friends with his neighbor Old Bill where their relationship enables them to overcome the grief from the loss of their loved ones and helps Old Bill to recover independence. He also becomes friends with a girl named Caitlin which later on turns into a loving relationship. Their relationship shows Billy’s maturity and commitment as he enters new experiences in an adult world. Billy is mature enough to see that these relationships are positive in entering a new phase in his life as they offer positive and supportive aspects to his life.

Frank’s relationships are very few and far between. His main relationship in Franks life is the one with his father, which is maintained all the way through as he tries and reunite his mother and father again after their break up. Franks relationship with his girlfriend is important in Franks live as it makes him realise that he doesn’t want to continue living as a criminal in an adults world and just wants to be a normal kid. The only other relationship Frank has in his life is the bizarre one with Carl, a FBI agent who is trying to catch him whilst fascinated with Franks ability to evade the law. Luckily for Frank after his capture Carl’s fascination for Frank’s talents are rewarded when Frank is given a second chance at a new life from an adult in the new world.

The relationships in Harvey has in his life are very significant as they enable Harvey to redeem himself from all the accidents that happen throughout his life. His relationship with his wife is one that develops love and romance in Harvey’s life. His relationship with is daughter is one of love and teaching as Harvey teaches her all about the facts he has collected throughout his life.

The problems that the protagonists’ face with living an independent life in an adult’s world is how quickly they have to mature and assimilate into the life they now live. For Billy his maturity enabled him to change quickly but his appearance and experience made it difficult for him. In contrast to Billy, Frank is less mature than Billy with his reasons for leaving home but learning from his fathers’ experience and his natural ability to act, Frank is able to present himself as someone different who fits into the adult world. Harvey on the on the other hand finds it difficult to assimilate. As hard as Harvey tries to assimilate, coming from Poland with disabilities he is not accepted very well. This leaves Harvey isolated from the public and very depressed.

The texts used deal with people entering new worlds and experiences. They encounter their new experiences in different ways, but they all undergo growth and change. Billy finds that having relationships with others to be supportive and helpful in helping him to a more positive and rewarding future. Frank’s entry into the new world could have been disastrous if the FBI had not recognised his potential and channeled his talents into a successful career. Harvey experiences redemption from having new relationships with people, which give him the motivation to continue living after his server accidents.

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Coming of Age in Simple Gift, Catch Me if You Can and Harvey Krumpet. (2022, Apr 23). Retrieved from

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