Billy was a troubled teenager bought up in the 1960’s in Yorkshire on an estate surrounded by poverty. Like many children who lived on that estate they were poor and had no real luxuries in life. It wasn’t a case of existing but a case of survival in a tough, joyless world. Billy’s mother couldn’t care for Billy in the way most mother’s do, this was because she was living in poverty but also because she was feckless and too self absorbed in what’s going on in her life to think about her family as well. ‘There were a packet of dried peas and a half bottle of vinegar on the shelves.
The bread bin was empty. ‘ Billy received no affection from either his mother ‘O shut up now then! You’ve cried long enough about it. ‘ Even when Billy tried to shoe emotion towards his mother she didn’t respond ‘Billy rushed around the table to his mother and tried to bury his face in her. She held off, embarrassed’ Or his brother ‘swung his fist under the blanket and thumped him in the kidneys’, which reflected, in his attitude to life and school. Billy’s mother was very irresponsible and had no respect for his education ‘haven’t you gone to school yet’
This attitude from his mother later reflects in Billy’s attitude to school, which is disturbing, as Billy is very intelligent but feels as though school is more of hard work rather than coming out of it with an education and being able to do something with his life. I feel that his mother destroys his life by dis-allowing any opportunities for Billy to make something of himself. However I feel a possible reason for this is because his mother resents the fact that she hasn’t had a life of her own and feels that Billy is keeping her from leading her own life.
This is why she doesn’t show Billy any love or affection as she sees him as a hassle and treats him as though he is a mistake. Billy’s been bought up to almost hide his emotions ‘Well, what’s he crying about then? ‘ which I feel reflects in his behaviour towards others. Billy’s mother has loose morals and has a reputation of sleeping with many men ‘Who’s that bloke’ which infers that Billy is used to finding strange men in his house. I believe this has a deep impact on Billy as he gets bullied at school for it and finds it hard to defend his mother as he knows that what they are saying is true ‘ Your Jud wouldn’t stick up for thee, anyroad.
He isn’t even thi brother’ Jud works down the mines and has had a hard life, I feel he takes out his anger on Billy as he feels he’s got an easier life ‘ tha wouldn’t be saying that if tha’ wa’ goin’ where I’m goin’ From this I think that’s the reason why Jud took Billy’s bike so that he would have to walk his paper round ‘Late. Our Jud went to t’pit on my bike. ‘ Tricks like this adds more tension between the two brothers which doesn’t help their hatred for each other. I feel sorry for Billy as its not only his mother who takes out her anger on him.
Jud is very violent towards Billy throughout the story and there is never any brotherly love shown between them. I believe that one of the reasons why Jud behaviours the way he does towards Billy is because of the rumours about their mother, as there were rumours going around the estate that they had different fathers. Jud’s older than Billy therefore he understands what’s being said and I feel he takes out the loss of his father on Billy inferring it was his fault he disappeared. At one point in the story Billy was to place a bet on for his brother thus he forgot.
I felt that Jud’s revenge really showed how much they didn’t get along as killing the one thing that kept Billy going throughout the story would of taken no conscience and no guilt. I believe that this act of revenge really grabbed the audience’s emotions and played on them as for one of the first times Billy expressed his emotions which was moving ‘Billy was screaming and crying into Jud’s ears’ Overall Billy’s home life was never an easy one and living in poverty didn’t help their situation as it just added more strain.
School in the 1960’s is very different to the way school is in the present day. Billy was treated just as unfairly at school as he was at home even more. Billy was an intelligent young boy but was treated as a failure by pupils and teachers. Billy did find it hard to read and write, however when he wanted to read he could real perfectly. As he stole a Dandy magazine and read it without help ‘ Dan is going to a wedding. His nephew and niece are helping him get ready’ I believe the pressure of having to be good at reading and writing at school made him appear as though he was a ‘failure’.
Also because nobody gave him a chance to show that he can read and write and just classed him as one who isn’t capable. Yet Billy was able to read a book on falconry and use the knowledge that he had learnt and put it all into teaching a falcon ‘Its smashing! I’ve been reading it all afternoon; I’m nearly halfway through already’. If there was a GCSE in falconry Billy would have been awarded an A grade, which would of really helped him in confidence and given him a more positive self image.
Billy was bullied throughout the book as he was seen as a misfit who didn’t belong in their gang, he was as a face without a name ‘At least I’ve got a father to bring up, that’s more than thar can say, Casper’ The school made him feel different and isolated from others which could be why the children acted the way they did towards him as the teachers were looked apon as role models. He didn’t have any friends however there was someone who believed in him, Mr Farthering who gave Billy his time, and didn’t look apon him as a failure but his own person.