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A novel that I have read recently is “Stone Cold” by Robert Swindells. In this novel there are two main characters called Link and Shelter. These characters have very different personalities. I intend to consider the ways in which the author has created these two very different personalities and will explain my reaction to each of them. This novel tells both sides of one story, Links side and Shelters side.
Link is a 16year old boy that left home because of family troubles and Shelter is a 47year old man who was discharged from the army on medical grounds and doesn’t agree with this. He thinks it is his duty to get rid of the homeless. Link moved to London to get away from it all (his family) and became homeless. Shelter doesn’t like the homeless, he just thinks they are a “waste-of-space” Shelter begins to bribe them into going back to his flat where he intends to kill them! Shelter kills many of Links friends and Link begins to wonder why they are all going missing. He does some detective work and then the truth is finally revealed.
In this novel Link is one of the main characters. During this novel we are made to sympathise with Link. One of the ways in which we are made to sympathise with him was when his stepfather Vince treated him unfairly “slapping him about”. This did not happen on only one occasion in fact it happened everyday:
“I’d been with my mates, he locked me out the house”.
Even although this was not Vince’s house he still thought he had the authority over Link and his mother to do this. This also showed how much Vince disliked Link.
Another way in which we are made to feel sorry for Link was when link was homeless and couldn’t get a job because:
” My clothes were sodden rags. My fingernails ere long, black claws, I had matted hair down to my shoulders and I stank.”
He said: ” I wouldn’t have hired me.”
Link had tried hard to get a job but didn’t succeed because of the way he looked. This made the reader sympathise with Link even more.
As the novel progresses we are made to admire Link. When Link met Ginger he was so desperate to make a friend he would do anything.
” No, not hungry.” This wasn’t the complete truth, perhaps I had found a friend and I wanted to hold onto him.”
This shows how alone Link really was and how much he will need to fend for himself. He was willing to give up his dinner to buy Ginger his. This would be a very hard thing to do especially if you didn’t know when your next meal would be.
In this novel we are also made to like Link. He was a very thoughtful character:
“When Ginger wasn’t looking I bought him 20 fags and a cheap lighter and gave them to him.”
Link didn’t smoke, but he was always willing to share his money. I thought that homeless people would have kept the little amount of money that they had to themselves, but not Link!
Link was also a very trusting character. When Ginger announced he was going to meet his friends Link didn’t ask any questions, he shrugged:
“Sure”, I didn’t know who these mates were or when he had fixed it up, but it was obvious he didn’t want me along and I wasn’t going to argue.”
In this case Link knew that Ginger may never come back but he still let him go. I wish I had more friends that trusted me like that!
In contrast to Link, the other main character Shelter is very different. Unlike Link we are made to dislike Shelter during the novel because of his attitude towards the homeless. He seemed to think that they are “scruffy blighters, lying around making the place look manky.” Shelter has no sympathy for the homeless less fortunate than him. This made me annoyed because Shelter doesn’t know these people and it may not be there fault for being that way. He thinks he is doing everyone a favour by selecting his homeless victims and killing them.
In this novel we are also made to realise that Shelter thinks he is very clever. Before Shelter began this operation he gave himself a new name. He says:
“I’ve been writing it, too, on the backs of envelopes. Shelter. Shelter. Shelter. It’s even starting to look like an authentic signature already.”
In general I think Shelter is quite a clever man, but doesn’t use his knowledge in a nice way.
As the novel progresses we learn that Shelter is very well organised. To make himself seem like a kind and caring person, Shelter planned every step this task very carefully including the purchase of a cat. He says:
“I’ve christened it Sappho. A brilliant touch this.”
This makes me realise how organised Shelter is. It also makes me realise how far he went to make this task go smoothly.
During this novel, Shelter shows himself to be a good actor. When Shelter misleads the victims he had to use his charm and good acting skills to do so. An example of this is when Shelter is attempting to make Ginger one of his victims. He says:
“An accident. He ran out in front of me, I never had a chance”
The fact that Ginger believed him must have meant he was a good actor. This makes me realise how dangerous lies can be. The helpless person didn’t have a clue what they were getting themselves into.
Link and Shelter are the complete opposite of each other. Link is a very caring character that hasn’t really achieved anything in life, whereas Shelter is a cruel, heartless person who has experienced military work in life.
In conclusion I think Shelter is a horrible man. I feel sorry for Shelter because I think he feels he didn’t achieve in life because he was dismissed from the army and he is coming back by killing the homeless. On the other-hand I think Link is a very kind and lonely person. No matter how poor he was he always helped his friends. I also feel sorry for Link, his family disowned him and he has no real friends. I thought this novel was a great read. It made me realise how hard and dangerous it is for the homeless to survive and also what a lonely life they lead.