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Hill presents the character Edmund Hooper as a unsympathetic character. Hill’s uses the technique of ‘unmitigated language’ to present Edmund as unsympathetic character; “You were only tenants then”, Edmund makes no effort to make his sentence any politer. The word “only” is chosen by Hill to try and ‘degrade’ Kingshaw’s ‘ status and to portray him, inferior to Edmund. Hill continues to show that Edmund is an unsympathetic character; “When did he die?”. The death of Kingshaw’s father is a personnel matter, and the ‘usual’ person is likely to feel sympathetic towards Kingshaw. Hill purposefully gives the question asked by Edmund no expression, the reader has no idea how Edmund states the question. By not including any expression, the reader is given the impression that Edmund is ignorant to the death of Kingshaw’s father, he is instead focused on being an imposing figure.
Edmund is portrayed as an imposing figure and his unsympathetic nature reinforces this view. Furthermore Edmunds actions portray him as a imposing figure; “Hooper looked at him coldly”, the word ‘coldly’ would suggests lack of emotion and ‘warmth’. Edmunds lack of emotion ‘frightens’ the readers. The reader develops an image of an emotionless child, Edmund shows no emotion towards his father either; “Hooper stood very still, turning the pencil round and round”, the word ‘still’ can be linked to the lack of motion, Edmund is in one sense ‘frozen’, he emits no emotions, no warmth towards no one. ‘Turning the pencil round and round’ could suggest that Edmund is like an endless loop, he is shown to have no personality and trying to make contact with Edmund is like going ’round and round’, you do not end up anywhere different, you keep on going round in a circle.
Finally, Edmund is shown to be violent; “He raised his fists and came at Kingshaw”. Fists are can be associated with boxing- a violent sport. Edmund with his fists ‘raised’ give the reader and image of a boy ready to fight. The word ‘came’ suggests Edmund can be compared to an object more than a human, which suggests that Edmund is a very unusual human, he is more like an object, emotionless and violent.
The violence is emphasised as Edmund has only just met Kingshaw, the mere fact Edmund attacks Kingshaw almost immediately after meeting Kingshaw suggests Edmund does not try to understand Kingshaw, he just attacks Kingshaw to be seen as the superior person. Edmund shows no regret in hurting Kingshaw, “I’ll bash you again”. The word bash is not associated with humans but objects. It is unusual to say ‘I’ll bash you. Bash is a very violent word and the reader sees Edmund as intimidating and violent. The word “again” suggests that Edmund will willingly hurt someone, repeatedly. The repetetion of Edmunds violent nature tells gives the image of an imposing character.
Hill tries to present Edmund as an imposing figure so that Edmunds character contrasts with Kingshaw. The reader sees Kingshaw as the victim and Edmund as the bully. The conflict between Kingshaw and Edmund is what engages the reader, and as the two characters have opposing personalities, conflict occurs a lot more frequently. The reader continues to read in anticipation that more conflict will occur, the conflict excites the reader and produces suspense.