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What evidence is there that Billy is not the complete failure that his school and society think that he is? What do we learn of his skills and talents in the novel and what do you think is Barry Hines trying to say about society? Free essay! Download now

Home > GCSE > English literature > What evidence is there that Billy is not the complete failure that his school and society think that he is? What do we learn of his skills and talents in the novel and what do you think is Barry Hines trying to say about society?

What evidence is there that Billy is not the complete failure that his school and society think that he is? What do we learn of his skills and talents in the novel and what do you think is Barry Hines trying to say about society?

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Downloads to date: N/A | Words: 1900 | Submitted: 23-Mar-2009
Spelling accuracy: N/A | Number of pages: | Filetype: Word .doc

Description

"A Kestral for a Knave" ("Kes") essay about Billy Casper and how school and society let him down

Preview

Towards the end of Billy's careers interview, the careers officer, in some desperation because Billy has shown little interest in his future so far, asks him if he has any hobbies, naming such things as "gardening" or "constructing Meccano sets". It would not surprise anybody that the Youth Employment officer's guesses should be so wide of the mark because he reflects just how little the school knows about Billy. Also, though, you wonder why he speaks of Meccano sets and gardening when one hobby is presumably very young for a 15 year old boy and the other you tend to associate more with the middle aged or even the elderly. This really goes to demonstrate how out of touch with a whole generation the school and its link organisations (like the Youth Employment service) are: teenagers are either children or adults; there is no in between. The mention of a hobby at this point is enough to make Billy jump up and want to leave as he suddenly connects the angry Jud with the safety of his bird. If Billy had been articulate enough and if he hadn't been distracted by fears for his bird, he could have told the employment officer about his hobby and the skills he had developed in pursuing it. Maybe he could have been put in contact with an agency that appreciated and needed skills like Billy’s. But this doesn't happen ...

This episode just serves to illustrate in a very obvious way how many of Billy's skills, and presumably a whole nation's secondary modern pupils' skills went overlooked and undervalued in the 1960s. This is one of the very important things that Barry Hines is trying to say in his novel. Clearly schools and society generally are bring criticised for their blinkered approaches and narrow attitudes to what constitutes education.

One of the many skills we learn about is Billy's sporting prowess. Mr Sugden would hoot with derision at any such suggestion, but since Sugden's interest lies only with a very competitive form of football and the only skills he is interested in honing are his own, this is hardly surprising. Billy, it becomes clear to us very early on, has the agility and balance that could make him a superb gymnast. He obviously spends much of his day practising these skills, as we see from where he clears the fencing around the recreation ground in his hurry to get to his newspaper job without a bike ( “he stepped back and sprang onto the interlaced wire fence, scaled it…”) and in his speedy reaction when people like his brother or Mr Gryce try to hit him (his reflexes are so quick when Mr Gryce takes a swipe at him – see page 153 - that the latter is taken by surprise and falls over). We see this skill really manifest itself when he climbs the wall at Monastery Farm to reach his kestrel chick. The farmer has already told us how dangerous this wall is:

“you’d be looking from six feet under if you try to climb up there” (page 28)
...

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