Smith's life, attitude, situation. What is his personal fate, the option(s) he has.
In the first part of the book we get to know the narrator, whose name is Smith. He is also the main character of the whole story. We learn that Smith is in borstal, because he was a young criminal, who got caught after robbing a bakery with a friend.
From the very beginning he describes his life as a battle between the "In-Laws" and "Out-Laws". Smith likes his friends from the same class and background as he is. He hates policemen, who come from the working-class, but help those in higher positions. Smith also hates those who own property and those who run the country. He has a very simple view of society. Alan Sillitoe wants to show how such a person tries to fight against the system, and how he can succeed, but only by hurting himself.
He does this in Smith's theory of "In-Laws" and "Out-Laws". But basically the "In-Laws" are being represented in the person of the Borstal governor. He is Smith's supervisor, who wants the criminal boy to win the Borstal Blue Ribbon Prize Cup for Long Distance Cross Country Running to gain the prestige through his expected victory for him. Smith's great talent is running and the governor knows that. Smith thinks he is treated like a race-horse. He is running against the system. Smith cannot win the race anyway, but he must keep running. When he stops, it will mean he is dead like everyone else who are not like him.
Smith has learned to think clearly enough to see through the governor, while the governor does not see through Smith's intentions. He has only two options. Win the race and accept the values of the governor and all his...