The God Boy Theme Universal problem - timeless ÃÂ¡V as important now as it was when the book was set.
Cross is exploring how some adults have a very strong superstitious belief, which they will either directly, or indirectly has an effect on their gullible children. It is showing the effects of strong superstitious beliefs and the consequences of it. (Examples are in Chapter 13, 14, and 15) Style The style of the story help draws us into the book Allows us to empathize (relate to / identifying with) JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s situation. (E.g. use of 1st person writing) Use of character A range of characters described throughout the story that we too might know and they are credible to varying degrees. (E.g. Bloody Jack ÃÂ¡V although an outsider, Cross made the point that children can identify such people and could have good relationship with them.
Cross reflects on the complexity of human behaviour throughout the novel and we can understand them by coming across them in the story.
Cross is brilliant in capturing how a boy talks Language This book is a marvelous study of how a 13-year-old boy at that time speaks. A lot of idioms were used by Jimmy to describe things as well as seeing things. His description was lively and also relates to humour. It is also part of his courage ÃÂ¡V laugh at himself. He was a fighter till the end (e.g. Last paragraph on pg. 93 ÃÂ¡V his little conflict with Legs Hope that day). In page 90, in the part where Jimmy talks to God, it is a good example of JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s language, how he describes things and the way he talks.
Setting A vivid setting, the description of the beach (common in NZ) ÃÂ¡V relate to the childhood of many New Zealanders.
The sea was vital to Jimmy; it was like an escape for him. The physical setting of the sea was good and well described.
The story was set in a small NZ town, credible setting for what happened.
Moving Story Readers were held by the tension building up through the novel. It has a fast pace building up to crisis in JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s life. He is vulnerable. Cross leaves us bare to what happens to people in the reality of life.
History NZ fiction, lots of books in NZ fiction writes about peopleÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦ childhood in NZ. (E.g. Maurice Shadbolt ÃÂ¡V Among the cinders, Maurice Gee ÃÂ¡V The big Season.) The God Boy is different because it is not so much about childhood memories, but the compacted tension built in 3 days that changed a boyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s life, which is also a tragedy. It is less about growing up but of crucial events and suspense and a fragmented family building up throughout the novel. (E.g. Molly is away from home, parents alienated from each other, whole family living in an isolated town, and also JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s isolation. Cross also made a contrast in the story by comparing JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s life to Joe Waters. It also projects the way that Jimmy sees a happy family.
Jimmy is raised in a traditional Roman Catholic family, he has a formal kind of worship, but was helpless when he thought that God was not helping and blames God for problems ÃÂ¡V experience of life.
The time at which the novel was set has also to be considered. It was set in a pre-Vatican II ÃÂ¡V before 1960. It is set in its era of time.
Tone of novel ÃÂ¡V a tragic story, Cross provides humour throughout story. (E.g., JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s observations, the way he describes people.) Jimmy He 13 year old when the novel starts and we first encounter him.
In the beginning, he was not a character that we would actually like, he likes to boast about his things, but it also indicates that he cares a great deal, it was not until he goes back and told us what happened when he was 11 years old, that we see the real Jimmy emerging.
We see Jimmy through what he sees, and think throughout the story since he told it to us.
We discovered that he is very sensitive and were deeply affected by the crisis. He feels strongly about what happens in the house (eg, his parents arguing) he hates it.
He develops his protection tricks to block out the sounds of his parents arguing. He starts to panic when argument begins. His physical pain smoothed his inner pain (e.g., digging his finger into the wallpaper, burned his hand under very hot water.) He wants to stand up and be proud and he lied to Joe Waters about his family. Make author feels and knows that all he wants is a happy home life.
He envies Joe Waters, Cross-has made a contrast and parallel situation. Make us know what Jimmy wants and lacks.
We also notice his loneliness throughout the novel. We feel sorry for his and know he need people to talk to, Bloody Jack was one of the people he likes but Bloody Jack is too old.
His parents were too caught up in bitterness to think about what Jimmy wants and lacks. They should be protecting him, and considering his feelings. JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s aggressiveness was a result of that. (E.g. yelled at God) He wants God to help him but he thinks God let him down and so he became a fighter ÃÂ¡V the outburst of aggression (e.g., breaking the shop window, throwing stones at Bloody Jack.) Imagery (setting, style ÃÂ¡V method) The Sea is an important image.
Jimmy at the beginning was 13 years old. He looks back to the place he grew up and he remembers all the bad things that had happened to him and the things he loved. (E.g. the sea) The sea to Jimmy was a good friend and comforter.
Throughout the novel, we discover that Jimmy is lonely and missed the sea when he is in the convent. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§All my life till I was taken away from there I could stop at any time of the day and cock my head and hear that purring.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) The sea brought peace and comfort to him. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§Not living by the sea is just the same as living underground and not being able to see the sky. The sea is just as important as the sky, and now I often want to hear it and yet I cannot except from memory.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) This also suggests that something important has gone in his life ÃÂ¡V his parents and the sea.
The sea was the only thing that he thinks God has done right.
(ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§DonÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t mistake me about myself, though. A lot of good things happened to they and me are what God could use in his defense. Raggleton was a nice place, down there by the sea, which roared quietly into your ear all the time, like a cat purring. All my life till I was taken away from there I could stop at any time of the day and cock my head and hear that purring.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§) In pg. 23, the priest gives a sermon and condemns the sea. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§ ÃÂ¡KHell was like an ocean of fireÃÂ¡Kevery wave being red-hot.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) However, the sea healed JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s own pain. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§And at night laying in bed it was extra plain, blur-blur-blurring away, and that was the sound of the whole world.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) Jimmy knew that the sea didnÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t take anything away from him, instead it gave him comfort and a friend ÃÂ¡V Bloody Jack plus the sailors. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§ÃÂ¡KThere were the regular fishermen who would drop into Raggleton sometimes. They would always let you look over their boats and tell you about sharks, whale and octopusesÃÂ¡Kall those men were friendly and tough and us boys respected them very much.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§And there are lots of nice people by the see. I used to sit and watch bloody Jack for hours on the wharf.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) Pg24 ÃÂ¡V the wharf also portrayed that the sea and the environment could be destroyed. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§Sitting there on the wharf, in those old clothes, near where the freezing works discharged the old blood and guts (you could smell it as well as see it in the waterÃÂ¡KÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) It is only a minor issue Cross has put across in the book.
Pg. 25 ÃÂ¡V ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§The sea itself, there, was no place for sissies, and the breakers came in like rows of steam-rollers and would flatten you if you didnÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t dive under or go with them.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) It was a challenging place for young boys. Jimmy thought they were better than town kids because town kids canÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t be so near a sea.
(ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§So kids had the sea and the sand, and rocks under the cliffs at one end of the beach, where crabs and other shelly fishes lived, as well as the normal things that kids have in living in a town. So I was lucky there.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) Pg49 ÃÂ¡V A part where the sea, wind and God was participating in his life. He told Bloody Jack that his mother and father arenÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t getting along with each other, and he thinks God was angry at him for that. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§I got a loopy feeling that the sea and the wind and the sky were God shaking his finger at me for telling on my mother and father, and I yelled out ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§I donÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t careÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) He also thinks that the sea and wind quieted down just to hear him. Everything is participating, letting him talk. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§ÃÂ¡K realised that still the wind was keeping down, and the splattering of the sea had stopped, and that even a seagull was hanging over the water, wing way out and not moving, and the wharf was steady as a rock, as if everything was keeping quiet to hear me talk.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) Pg. 110 ÃÂ¡V the day after Jimmy received the Bike, when he was very upset, he thinks that even the sea feel like he does. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§The house looked silent and unfriendly away at the far end of the road, the lupines and marram grass were flat heavy and numb, as though my ears were blocked.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) After that, he became aggressive. (He scared the old lady, he smashed the fruit shop window and he attacked Bloody Jack.) Bloody Jack tells him not to come back to the sea. It was frustration on him that made him attack Bloody Jack etcÃÂ¡K What Jimmy does is understandable because of his frustration and all that he had gone through. (When talking Bloody Jack ÃÂ¡V the sea calms down ÃÂ¡V Shakespearean type.) Use of the sea is common in NZ literature. (NZ symbol.) Style Chapter 1 Paragraph 1 ÃÂ¡V repeat ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§I donÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t careÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ 5 times indicates denial and that Jimmy does care. He protest too much and care a great deal ÃÂ¡V after reading it, readers are captured by it. It uses 1st person narration, and uses flashback to tell the story. Lots of Backwards and Forwards movement while telling the story. In first paragraph, he is rambling on to indicate that Jimmy is confused and torn apart. In this paragraph, it also gives us plenty of information that we need to know (e.g., Jimmy lives in a childrenÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s home, he said he is tough.
In this story we also get a double perspective ÃÂ¡V getting experience of an 11-year-old and also the interpretation of a 13-year-old.
He talks about bikes, and later on, the author tells to us the importance and significance of it. In Chapter 11, the bike business was explained.
Pg. 14 ÃÂ¡V he is living with nuns, a Roman Catholic experience. It also tells us that his father is very important to him, and also about his experience with his parents.
Pg. 15 ÃÂ¡V We know that Jimmy is proud of his father Pg. 16 ÃÂ¡V there were times when he did care Pg. 17 ÃÂ¡V Hint that an important thing is going to come. JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s conversational chatty style in last paragraph of this page.
Pg. 18 ÃÂ¡V the wallpaper ÃÂ¡V describes JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s protection trick. Shows stress.
Pg. 19 ÃÂ¡V shows his fits ÃÂ¡V Jimmy reacts Physically. Also show fair description of his mother ÃÂ¡V building up to the tension later on.
Pg. 20 ÃÂ¡V another protection trick is told.
Chapter 2 Pg. 21 ÃÂ¡V in first two lines talks about the relationship between men and women. It also tells us that the sea is like an escape, a place for discovery. (a stereotype) Second paragraph foreshadows a crisis is going to happen.
Pg. 22 ÃÂ¡V Father in bad mood because wife did not agree to go out with him to husband and wife affair. Readers here get an idea that the parents are not going on very well.
Relationship of Jimmy with God was talked about ÃÂ¡V his colloquial language, and he being brought up to believe God was supposed to help.
Pg 23 ÃÂ¡V He says he got the thin end of the purse ÃÂ¡V shows us how he sees things and the things that happened to him before the 3-day crisis.
Gives us the description of the sea and his love for it, however in the end, we know that he was separated from the sea and we know that he feels sad about it.
Pg. 24 ÃÂ¡V display of JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s colloquial language and idioms he use to describe Bloody Jack.
Pg. 25 ÃÂ¡V gives the setting of the novel ÃÂ¡V Jimmy describes that the sea was only for boys with strength and courage.
Pg. 26 ÃÂ¡V He is wondering why Bloody Jack and his mother did not speak to each other.
Chapter 3 Pg. 27 ÃÂ¡V we get a clear view of the conflict between the parents, it was all over in three days. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§After that evening when I came home with Dad, and he and Mum started fighting, it was all over in three days.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) Molly was away in the time the crisis happened. Showed JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s love for his house.
Pg. 28 ÃÂ¡V Mother was sick, the bike business was talked about It also displays humour about the black bathroom walls and about the legs of the bathtub.
Pg. 29 ÃÂ¡V It describe mother, how she is fussy (e.g. ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§Just look at your clothes. IÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦ll have to give you clean ones for Father Gilligan tomorrow.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) It also gives a description of how Jimmy sees his mother.
Pg. 30 ÃÂ¡V Describes that the father is sensitive and it gives the life story of himself and his bitterness, about how he wasnÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t a success.
Pg. 31 ÃÂ¡V continued description of the attitude of the Father Pg. 32 ÃÂ¡V Describe the Father and mother conflict.
Chapter 4 Pg. 33 ÃÂ¡V Gives a typical NZ setting (e.g. marram grass, lupines.) Jimmy talks about his fits Pg. 34 ÃÂ¡V Describe his outdoor and indoor protections trick.
Pg. 35 ÃÂ¡V description of the fat women ÃÂ¡V described in the language of a young child.
Pg. 37 ÃÂ¡V warning to Jimmy was giving by the mother, (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§donÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t you come upstairsÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) In throughout the novel, a lot of things that happened, Jimmy doesnÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t fully understands, although we as the reader will.
Pg. 38 ÃÂ¡V indoor protection trick was used and then he sang the song ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§itÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s a long way to TipperaryÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ Pg. 39 ÃÂ¡V Mother told Jimmy not to say anything to anyone about the fat women who came.
Chapter 13 Jimmy tells Sister Angela that he is feeling very religious. Sister Angela thinks he is GodÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s name in vain and tells him that the Devil can and likes to take over little boys. However, Jimmy thinks that God is looking over him.
(ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§There is a God in Heaven and a Devil in Hell and there is a constant battle going on for the possession of our immortal souls. The Devil fights to get the souls of little boys, too, you know, so that he can take them down to Hell and keep them there forever and forever.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§ÃÂ¡K But sometimes the Devil is very clever and leads us into bad habits when we mean well.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) Chapter 14 After his mother fell, and the bike incident led up to the conflict between the parents and also his talk with Sister Angela, Jimmy feel, in some way that the devil is talking to him. In confessions, he was afraid of the priest who he thinks will tell him off for being so bad. He gets very panicky, and he wants to tell the priest about his parents. However, in the end he did not, he became desperate and invented sins right and left. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§ I remember saying that I had taken two apples without my motherÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s permission, told five or six lies, missed saying my prayers, taken the LordÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s names in vain ÃÂ¡V I suppose that would be true ÃÂ¡V disobeyed my father twice, been cruel to animals, thrown stones at little girls, and looked into a dressing shed where five or six women were taking their clothes off.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) God and the Devil are confused in his mind.
Chapter 15 Jimmy starts his variant violent ways, for example, threw a stone at the Hindu fruit shop window ÃÂ¡V he thought he was seeing the devil and the devil is coming out of him but it was actually the HinduÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s face. (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§I stared so long that I got to seeing them as being dark, ugly sins in my body, smelling and dirty, but my tough face showed that I didnÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t give a damn. And then inside the outline of my body a devilÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s face slowly took shape. It came to my chest, a dark, ugly thing with big lips that looked hot and yellow, pointed teeth, eyeing me in a friendly way, as though it had been feeding on what was inside me and was trying to show how pleased it was.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) (ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§Get away from meÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) His anger and frustration was bursting out of him. He attacked Bloody Jack. However, Sister Angela will not understand because of the superstitious belief.
Another idea that is linked closely to these belief is JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s relationship with God. (E.g. ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§A chance in a million for someone like God to give me a helping handÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨). In Chapter 4 ÃÂ¡V ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§you bastardÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ In Chapter 2 ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§ÃÂ¡Kyet there is no hiding the fact that in some ways I am dissatisfied with God.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§I should think that God should wait till children are over twelve at least before he starts swinging Sunday punches.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) He uses a lot of boxing expressions to talk about things. (E.g., thin end of the purse, swinging Sunday punches.) ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§ I was a great one for my prayerÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ Here, Cross is suggesting that Jimmy canÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t understand why God let things go so badly out of hand ÃÂ¡V disappointed.
Chapter 23 ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§Them for days on end and I get annoyed at God for putting one across on me the way he did. If I had been a big sinner, it would have been different. I was a baby like other babies, a little boy like other little boys, and I certainly didnÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t do any big wrong. ThatÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s what I have against God. Me so little and he God. ThatÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s why I call him a pain in the neck every so often, and once or twice I have taken communion and bitten the wafer right through with my teeth to try and hurt him.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨) Jimmy feels at odds ÃÂ¡V make the book universal because a lot of children like to say ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§why meÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨, Jimmy typical of that because heÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s young. Like to feel ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§why meÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ for things like family breakups etc.
Nun and PriestÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s superstitious belief (e.g. the devil) means that they could give no help to Jimmy. The Nun and the Priest didnÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t help. Cross explores all these things ÃÂ¡V how orthodox religion can fail to help others especially in lives that have been torn apart by human issues.
Family breakups and abortion are not common. Normally it is backstreet abortion ÃÂ¡V these kinds of things wonÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t be around, therefore we understand why the mother doesnÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t want to tell any one about it. It is mostly hidden of denied. In that era of time, families tend to stay together no matter what. Cross is looking at social problems which was given no help at that time. (E.g. drinking and abortion and family problems.) At that time, there was lack of understanding for these situations because of the superstitious beliefs. However, in the society today, there is more understanding. This novel, relevant because of the rise of fundamentalism and people donÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t want to address these problems.
Psychological damage can be imposed on children by family breakups especially when parents use children to get at each other. JimmyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s parents loved him, but are blinded to the damage theyÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦ve done to him ÃÂ¡V children became withdrawn, violent, unrule in class, anti social behaviours, adopt protection trick, and inflict pain to himself to block out the inner pain, (e.g. running his hands in burning hot water, digging his fingers into wallpaper.) Jimmy sees himself as a God Boy ÃÂ¡V suffered the pain Christ had ÃÂ¡V e.g., dig fingers into wallpaper. Have a strong appeal to the mother of Christ.
ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§I donÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦tÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦ careÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ ÃÂ¡V refrain ÃÂ¡V carried throughout his life, to cover the pain he had been through.
Chapter 23 A moving part ÃÂ¡V tells us what Jimmy lacks and what he wants.
ÃÂ¡ÃÂ§A child should have plenty of sleep, I think, three meals a day, with a soft drink now and then in between if he feels like it, plenty of room to play about in, and a home thatÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦s a little like Christmas morning all the time. Toothache or a cut knee or something would be all right for a child, but not much more than that in the way of pain. Certainly he shouldnÃÂ¡ÃÂ¦t have to worry about his parents, or about anything at all for the matter. Except a little about school, how fast he can run, or whether he is going to be any good at football, and such mental questions as how big the world really is all the way around, and what is behind the sky.ÃÂ¡ÃÂ¨ Another cause of the psychological damage was the death of his father. At that age, he knows that it was his mother who had killed him, he was made to deal with death, but he cannot confront / deal with openly. It was a private experience for him ÃÂ¡V make readers feel concerned and fear for him. Jimmy half understands everything ÃÂ¡V why does Sister Angela says the devil is in him etcÃÂ¡K why not allowed to talk about the fat women.