The free verse novel ‘The Simple Gift’ is about Billy Luckett, a sixteen-year-old boy who decides to leave home, as he felt he was isolated from everyone else. Billy finds his security, peace and identity in the natural environment but is also shown throughout the novel that he does not give up to be a part of something or someone as he continues to strive to see the good side to others.
In the novel Herrick constantly uses a various array of techniques such as symbolism, flashback and first person to portray the character’s feelings. Billy “praying for morning and sunshine” gives a sign to the reader that he desires a new life, and the symbolism of the morning and sunshine signify a new day. The wind and the rain “hitting Billy in the face with the force of a father’s punch” also help to expose the mistreatment that his father had given him whilst being at home. Through these quotes it is patent that Herrick employs the techniques symbolism and flash back to show how he is not accepted by his father.
When Billy finally finds his place he can call home, Bendarat, here he also discovers his first real companionship from Old Bill, the “saddest man in the world”, and Caitlin, a girl he meets at McDonald’s who is from a wealthy family. To begin Billy is presented to the, at times, judgmental Caitlin as a bum but by displaying his compassion and not only being a homeless boy on the street he changes her perspective on himself, Old Bill and people like him. When we first see Caitlin, Herrick employs first person and the change in perspective to show Caitlin’s first reaction to Billy eating scraps at McDonalds - “put that back.” However, Caitlin avoids this, and instead says, “I hate mopping” to show Billy’s already changing influence on Caitlin.
Billy, ironically, acts as a role model for Old Bill, as he transforms him by giving him “simple gifts” such as coffee, breakfast and the cigarettes. Here is shown once again the compassion given off by Billy as he does not give up on a person who tells him to “piss off son”. In becoming closer with Old Bill we are aware why he is such an old bitter man: the loss of his wife and his “darling Jessie”. It is also seen how Billy influences Old Bill to change his ways; prompting him to shave, this symbolises his own personal growth. In return Old Bill repays Billy by giving him his old house to live in. The use of first person in these quotes give a deeper explanation on to how one character has ended up where he is.
All these examples illustrate how Billy’s desire to belong to a place or people helped him find that security and identity. As Old Bill presents him the gift of the key to his home this gives the sense of protection as he now has his own place to live and be himself with no violence from his father. His relationship with Caitlin also shows how she has accepted him for who he is and provides each of them with a sense of identity.
The text ‘A Child Called IT’ also connects and relates to the previous text. This is portrayed through the main character, David. The first chapter ironically begins with the ending to give emphasis to the reader and demonstrate the importance of the ending for the child.
Various techniques are used within the text such as first person narration and personification. As the novel is spoken in first person, its effectiveness is shown as it highlights to the reader that the story is from the child’s perspective, which is also shown in ‘The Simple Gift’ with the difference that it comes from more than one characters’ standpoint. It symbolizes that the author is directly addressing the reader to have a greater impact and engages them to continue reading. Throughout his childhood David becomes an isolated victim of his mother’s violence in comparison to how Billy is a victim to his fathers violence, which in turn makes him abandon his home and run away. David is rejected by his family members and is represented as the household slave as well as being his mothers outlet for anger.
The idea of isolation is conveyed throughout the novel and it becomes evident that, not only at home, but also at school David is removed from normal relationships. “The entire room lets out a howl at me – the reject of the fifth grade”, this example uses the mentioned technique of personification to emphasise to the reader that David is completely segregated, lost and alone. He does not belong at home with his own family, nor does he at school among his peers.
Disconnection and alienation is presented throughout the novel, while David has accepted the fact that he does not belong to anyone or anything he still desires that someday he will be capable to connect with something or someone. This is evident in the line, “I would give anything to have been there in class when they found out I’m not so bad”. The quote has impact on the reader as it identifies that, although his peers have seemed nothing but uninterested in becoming friend with him, he still longs and strives to be accepted so that he may have that sense of belonging to a place or to people.
Therefore, through these examples, it can be said that the text ‘A Child Called IT’ helps develop our understanding of the fundamental human need to belong by intensely drawing the reader’s attention to a deep sense of not belonging ad also how important it is to develop a connection with people or a place.