How does Hill present childish behaviour in I’m the King of the Castle? Essay
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Hill presents childish behaviour through the use of dialogue, description and structure. She highlights that childish behaviour is a characteristic of adults, as well as the children. There are numerous examples of childish behaviour throughout the novel, for example when Hooper and Kingshaw fight over a toy, or when Hooper soils himself.
One way in which Hill presents childish behaviour is after an incident where Hooper and Kingshaw are fighting over a toy fort: during that fracas Kingshaw chants “It’s mine, it’s mine!”, Hills use of dialogue is interesting here because the use of a tri colon not only emphasises the intensity of Kingshaw’s emotional reaction, (furthered by the fact he is fighting over a toy) but also echoes that chant like whines of small children.
The importance of this line is signalled through the use of italics, which suggests that there is a degree of stress on Kingshaw whilst he speaks, again like a child.
Another way that Hill explores childishness in the novel is through her description of Hooper soiling himself: Hill describes a “dark damp stain” of pee in the groin of Hooper’s jeans”. Hills use of the word “stain” portrays an image of dirt and even disease to the reader, the reader is hence disgusted. Furthermore the reader can perceive the word “pee” to relate towards a lack of control, like a child. What is interesting to note is that the word “pee” is highlighted before the more scientific word “groin”, this highlights Kingshaw’s childish nature. This quote fits in the context of this novel because it is based upon power struggles between two children; Hill exposes the fact that although Hooper is initially presented as a powerful figure, he is still a child.
Finally Hill not only presents the children in I’m the King of the Castle as childish, but also presents the adults as childish. It can be argued that when Mrs Helena Kingshaw “felt a little ashamed of not wanting to take Charles with her”- she is behaving in a childish manner. Hill uses the words “not wanting” to portray Mrs Kingshaw as a selfish individual, oblivious of her sons’ needs; this is arguably a childish quality. Hill’s use of juxtaposition highlights the phrase “not wanting”, her selfish qualities prioritise over that of her own son: this is especially self, and comparable to little children. Mrs Kingshaw also displays a lack of empathy, as shown in the previous quote: young children also have a lack of empathy until they grow older, and hence this quality is a childish quality.
In conclusion Hill presents childishness or immaturity in the novel through her use of dialogue, description and structure. Hill emphasises childish behaviour that is associated between Hooper and Kingshaw, but also points out the adults are equally susceptible to such behaviour. Perhaps she is criticising parenting styles to show the reader the negative impact it can have on children. Her use of parallel structure is also ironic as it suggests that such negative qualities are passed on through generations. However, the parallel structure can also be reparative and predictable at times.