Malarkey by Keith Gray Essay
In the novel Malarkey, the author Keith Gray has made the theme of conflict prominent through key incidents and characterisation. There are several key events in the story that gradually reveal this conflict as the story goes on. The conflict can also be seen through characterisation.
Therefore through these two areas of the novel – characterisation and key incidents/events – we can explore the central theme of the storyline, conflict.The theme of conflict starts in the first few pages of the novel. There is a key incident when John Malarkey… the main character is attacked in the school corridor, and has his bag stolen from him.
A quote from this section is -“I tried to turn round but was thumped hard between the shoulders and pushed face first to sprawl on the wet floor”This is when the whole story gets going… “Malarkey” is targeted in the school corridor, singled out, pushed on the floor and has his bag taken from him.
This starts the whole story, particularly the conflict side of it.After his bag was stolen he chased after the “robbers”. When he eventually catches up with the pair though he was punched hard again. After he was punched, he remarked -“I was thrown clean off my feet – I flew.
Every bone in my body as I crashed down onto the pavement.”Malarkey had to go to his next class with no bag. Although, when he got to his next class there was his bag lying on one of the desks. Nothing was missing, but there was something extra. This is what Malarkey says when he sees the “extra” object at the bottom of his bag.”.
..hadn’t been there before : small, flat, brown, made of leather”Meanwhile there is Mr MacAllan, a teacher, standing at the front of the class…
ready to search the classes bags – To look for his missing wallet. Malarkey had no choice but to admit the wallet was in his bag… he had been framed. Malarkey is not going to go down without a fight.
He shows this later on in the book when he says -“If someone else tried to mess up my life for me? I wasn’t going down without a fight.”So, John Malarkey is now trying to find out more about the people who stole his bag. He eventually figures out it is a gang. He shows this by remarking.”It was a gang – had to be.”Malarkey then goes after this gang trying to find out more about them.
.. but gets deeper and deeper into their world. The leader of the gang is called Freddie Cloth. Malarkey is speaking about him here.”.
..murderous perhaps? Maybe he’d want to give me more than just a few bruises.”From this we can see there is a conflict brewing between the Tailor Gang and John Malarkey. This conflict deepens yet further when the Tailor Gang set Malarkey up once again.
This time they pretend he can join the gang, and bring him along to gatecrash a party. Once he is inside they call the police and leave him in the house to be arrested.”I heard strong coppers voices at the bottom of the stairs. I went out the window.”Luckily Malarkey escapes, but only just.
This deepens his hate for the Tailor Gang and especially Freddie Cloth. He has to prove he didn’t steal the wallet otherwise he will be kicked out of school. A main area of conflict is when John Malarkey gets beaten up at the pool hall. He gets badly beaten by many members of the Tailor Gang.
“Big George and Blondie slammed me up against the wall.””…
picking one of the balls (snooker ball) I had potted off the table, juggling it above me. …and it hit the left side of my face, exploding a whole bomb of pain on my cheekbone.
“All these key incidents show conflict in the novel. However, the conflict is also shown through characterisation.As you will have probably picked up on John Malarkey is the central character of the story. Some members of the Tailor Gang are also main characters, especially Freddie Cloth.
.. the gang leader. Freddie Cloth has a girlfriend called Becky Chase. She is the “insider” in the Tailor Gang.
Becky Chase is a complicated character. She seems to start liking John Malarkey but sometimes turns against him… and there is a slight conflict at times between these two characters. However, even although Becky is tightly linked with the Tailor Gang and the enemies of John Malarkey, Becky and John seem to have a growing relationship behind Freddie’s back.
At one point in the book Becky and John Malarkey kiss.”When she stepped up to me again, when she kissed me, I didn’t even stop her.”The relationship with all the other characters is really just conflict. He doesn’t have many friends at Brook High School because he is new…
and the teachers certainly aren’t on his side. His relationship with Freddie Cloth is summed up in this comment when he is talking to him on the phone.”I’ll steal your girlfriend, then I’ll bring down your whole gang. You won’t know what hit you.”John Malarkey’s relationship with the rest of the gang is similar. Violence and conflict.
His relationship with the teachers is rather brief. He has a few “conversations” with teachers when they are telling him off or trying to find information…
but generally, he tries to spend most of his time running away from most of the teachers after him. He doesn’t want to just give in… he isn’t prepared to hand himself in and get expelled from school.
So, as we can see from these key events and some aspects of characterisation, the theme of conflict is central to the storyline. Keith Gray has made the theme of conflict prominent by portraying it through key events and characterisation.