How does Billy’s tall story in “A Kestrel For A Knave” and “The Poor Relation’s Story” By Charles Dickens influence your opinion of the characters? Billy Casper, the main character in “A Kestrel For a Knave” has a very poor lifestyle. He is a short, skinny destitute teenager about to leave high school. He lives in one of the roughest and crime-ridden estates in town. “They said, you’ll have to keep your eyes open now, you know, ‘cos they’re all alike off that estate. They’ll take you breath if you’re not careful” – Mr Porter
The residents on Billy’s estate are terribly poor and so they have to turn to a life of felony and Billy is no exception. Although Billy has a worthy excuse, this can be said for most people who choose to lead a criminal lifestyle. Billy has an extremely distinct lack of respect for his house and his estate, so much so that he pelts his own house: – ‘Then he picked one up, weighed it in his palm, and threw it high in the direction of the house’ (Referring to eggs) He is poorly fed and very malnourished and is persistently looking for warmth right the way through the book.
He lives with his mother and his half-brother, Jud. His father left home after finding his mother on the sofa with another man. The reason he is so emaciated is because his mother does not feed him the right things: – “Here, there’s two bob for you. Go and buy yourself some pop an’ some crisps or summat. ” – Billy’s Mother She does this to cover up the fact there is a pitiable amount of food in the kitchen and that she can’t be bothered to cook him up a proper meal. This leads Billy to steal things like bottles of milk from the milkman and bars of chocolate from the shop.
Billy is continually browbeaten throughout the book. Be it the teachers and classmates at school and his half-brother Jud at home. Throughout the book Jud aims allsorts of taunts and jeers in the direction of Billy. This particular one after Jud sees that Billy has ‘obtained’ a book on Falconry “What’s tha want that for when tha can’t read? ” – Jud Billy’s mother is no better either. Billy’s mother does not truly know about motherhood and what is involved in it and appears not take Billy seriously.
She disgracefully fails to show Billy any kind of love or support. This is evident when Billy’s mother doesn’t turn up to a meeting with an employment officer at Billy’s school when the parents of the other pupils have all turned up. One other major way that Billy’s mother shows her disregard towards Billy is when Billy comes in crying with his dead bird in his palms, desperately in need of motherly love and emotional and physical soothing: – “Course I’m bothered. But it’s only a bird. You can get another can’t you? Billy longs for his father.
But there is a very diminutive chance that he will return. His father came home one day to find Bill’s mother on the sofa with another man. Billy has great memories of his father and the activities that he used to do with him. Billy desires for his family to get back together minus Jud. Before Billy had discovered Kes, he used to hang out with on the streets with his previous associates Tibby and McDowell and used to get himself in bother. Billy was been in trouble with the police and is doing a paper-round to pay off all the fines that he has been given.
But since Kes, Billy has not been in trouble once. This is because he is too busy looking after Kes and has stopped hanging out with Tibby and McDowell. The bulk of people that are in Billy’s life don’t think much of him. The teachers at Billy’s school especially spurn Billy. Proof of this is when Mr Gryce spots Billy is still standing up, daydreaming, after the rest of the school sat down after prayer and he gives Billy a severe roasting in the midst of the whole school: –
“I’ll thrash you, you irreverent scoundrel”- Gryce But Mr Gryce appears not to only treat Billy with such verbal abuse, he addresses the pupils stood outside his office to come in by shouting: – “Come in, you reprobates! “- Gryce Most other teachers hurl insults towards Billy left, right and centre as well… “And so did you Casper. Just came out from under a stone. ” Mr Crossley All this abuse has to rub off on Billy. This leaves Billy with very low sense of worth and self-belief.
All this neglect could seriously damage a child of Billy’s stature leaving them extremely vulnerable and could eventually drive them to take their own life if such treatment continued for large periods of time. Although most teachers appear to hate Billy, Mr Farthing does not appear to abide such extreme views towards him. Mr Farthing, Billy’s English teacher raises Billy’s self-esteem and continually praises Billy after hearing his talk on Kes in one of his English lessons. Mr Farthing is genuinely fascinated by Billy’s secret and prudent lifestyle with Kes. “Right, you can sit down now.
That was very good, I enjoyed it, and I’m sure the class did” – Mr Farthing So much so that he asks to see Kes with Billy. After seeing Billy and Kes in action he labels Billy as a natural with animals. Billy sees Mr Farthing as a friend and is not afraid to open up to him, and he does after the fight with McDowell in the yard as he provides Billy with a shoulder to cry on. This is very unique as Mr Farthing is the only adult that Billy feels this way about. I can’t really say that Kes gives Billy the power to revolutionize and turn around his social life, because she doesn’t.
But Kes is extremely close to Billy’s heart. Kes gives Billy a sense of satisfaction and achievement. People can look upon Kes and can see the way Kes and see the way she’s been, and with extreme adroit, trained by Billy. Kes gives Billy the will to live another day while others in Billy’s position would have given up on life long ago. Kes is effectively Billy’s best friend and whom he spends most of his spare time with and would have continued to do so after he left school if events wouldn’t have gone the way they have done.