Kestrel for a Knave Summary Notes

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  • Topic: Yorkshire, Emotion, Love
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  • Published : October 30, 2011
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Kestrel for a knave

In KES, the scarred landscape of the South Yorkshire coalfield is a silent but powerful protagonist. The local pit lies at the heart of the community and dominates the lives of all that live close to it. In South Yorkshire in the 1960s, many families in pit villages were dependent on coal mining for a living. Some miners like Jud in KES were regarded with fear and to compensate for long shifts and dangerous working conditions spent a lot of their spare time in social clubs and pubs. Facing an uncertain future on leaving school, Billy is faced with the very real prospect of becoming an apprentice miner. In training Kes, Billy not only discovers

affection but also escapes, albeit temporarily, his immediate surroundings. In his interview with the Youth Employment
Officer, he makes it very clear that he has no intention of working at the local pit. He repeatedly tells the Youth Employment Officer:

How important do you think the symbol of flight is
in the play?
I think it’s very important. What the play is about, is that everyone has the potential to fly, and how that is realised is very dependent on the opportunities that people are given through their home lives and their experiences at school. In a way Billy embodies Kes on stage. There are lots of descriptions about him running and at times being physically free. His sense of flight is caged in at school and in particular in the PE changing room. In the play Kes becomes a symbol for reaching potential. When Billy feels that he has flown it is rooted in the last memory that he has of his dad throwing him up in the air and feeling safe and secure in the knowledge that he is going to be caught.

In order to fly you have
to know that there is
somebody there to catch
you and that makes flight
possible. In order for
Billy to let Kes fly he has
to accept the possibility
that he might lose her.
In eventually losing Kes,
Billy understands that
ultimately the ability
to fly and be...
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