The Changeling Critical Essay Rachel Meikle Choose a novel which reaches a climax which you find dramatic or moving or disturbing. Explain how the writer achieves this effect and discuss how it contributes to your appreciation of the text as a whole. In Robin Jenkins “The Changeling” the main character Tom Curdie is a young boy who is faced with the feeling of not belonging in any environment, and therefore makes a very sad and disturbing decision of how to solve his problem. Tom’s build up to making this decision is highlighted throughout the whole book, and then reaches the disturbing climax at the end of the novel. Jenkins’ effective use of characterisation and climax build up to and highlight the horrible ending, and also adds to my appreciation of the theme of belonging. Tom Curdie is a young boy who lives in the east-end of Glasgow and is from a very deprived background. However, his English teacher Charlie Forbes recognises that he has potential and offers to take him on holiday with his family to Towellan to give him the opportunity to see what life could be like for him if he works hard. Unfortunately, Tom eventually finds himself completely isolated when he realises that he does not belong in Charlie’s life yet he knows he can never return to his old life in Donaldson’s Court. He runs away and although Charlie and his daughter follow him they can do nothing to save him when he eventually hangs himself. At the beginning of the novel we learn that Tom Curdie lives in a small, horrible environment in the east-end of Glasgow called ‘Donaldson’s Court’, this court is a disgusting area and not the place a child could be well brought up in and nurtured properly. To survive, Tom has developed a tough independence which helps him to cope with the harsh life of the slums. Although Tom appears to be the a tough young boy, we learn early in the book that Tom has a softer side to him when he meets a stray black cat and feeds it with a piece of his apple: “Then, biting off a piece, he placed it under the cat’s mouth. This highlights the generosity of Tom, and demonstrates to the reader that he isn’t the violent and hard boy he pretends to be. Also, just after the cat incident, we see an act of generosity from Tom again when he gives the rest of his apple to his younger brother Alec: “Tom handed him the apple. ” This again indicates to the audience that Tom is a kind young boy and only put on a tough act in order to survive in Donaldson’s Court.
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