Soup On Ice

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2002

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Soup on Ice In Robert Newton Peck's Soup on Ice two characters named Rob Peck and Soup Vinson are continually getting into predicaments over their Christmas vacation. In the book, Soup and Rob are two sixth grade boys in the late 1930's who are known for getting into trouble in a small town called Learning, Vermont. In the story the two boys are trying to figure out a way to make the big Christmas celebration in town extra spectacular. At the beginning of the plot, the two boys are concerned only about what they will get for Christmas, but as the plot continues they realize that other things are much more important than gifts that they will receive. The narrator throughout the story is Rob Peck. Rob is one of the main characters in the story and this works out very well to advance the plot smoothly. During the story, Soup and Rob meet two main conflicts.

They need to find a way to persuade their parents to buy them a Buck Jones BB Gun, and later they have to find a person to play Santa Claus for the big tree lighting in the Town Square. Soup and Rob are two great characters in the book, and Robert Newton Peck does a great job in expressing how the boys change their views as the plot moves forward.

The first main character in this novel is a young boy named Rob Peck. Rob shares the leading role in this story with his best friend Soup. He is also the narrator of the book, so we are able to see all of his thoughts and feelings about what is going on in the story. Rob is an average student in school who has a tendency to get in trouble with his friend Soup outside of school. He is usually not the one who causes the trouble, but either way he is a part of it. Rob and Soup remind me a lot of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Rob would be the Tom Sawyer of the two because he is the one who gets dragged into crazy plans made by Soup. Rob has a soft spot for a girl in class named Norma Jean Bissell. Rob likes Norma Jean, but never gets the courage to talk to her in school. In the story a certain line that would best describe Rob is when Rob is talking to Soup after a long day of shoveling and he says, "Let's go home Soup. It'll be time for chores, and I can't afford to miss those. Not this close to Christmas and a possible BB gun." This describes Rob well because it shows that he is an obedient boy, who also is able to get into trouble sometimes, in this case with a BB gun. By the end of the story, Rob changes from being a boy who is only worried about his Christmas present to a boy who would rather have well for others than him. I really like Rob Peck because he is the character that keeps the book going with his narration and good humor.

The next significant main character in the story is Luther "Soup" Vinson. In the book, Soup is Rob Peck's best friend who is usually leading the two boys into trouble around town. Soup is a young and almost rebellious boy who always finds a way to get him and his friend into trouble. Usually Soup means well, but things do not always turn out the way that he wants them to be. Soup does not really like girls, and he really can't stand a girl at school named Janice Ricker. He does not like Janice because she always is punching him and beating him up after school. The best line to describe Soup's personality in the story is used when Soup is convincing Rob to do the main shoveling of the sidewalks and he will pick up the extras. In this line Soup says, "You're good at shoveling, and I'm better at edging. Besides you're the boss of our business and the boss always goes first to lead the way." This shows that Soup is a crafty little boy who always has ideas that will work out to benefit his well being. Soup is changed from a boy who is always looking out for himself, to a boy who cares more about others at the end of the story. I think that Soup is the best character in the book because he adds excitement and mischief to every scene that he is involved in.

The third main character in Soup on Ice is Mr. Stanley "Slosh" Dubinski. Slosh is the man that Soup and Rob try to persuade to play Santa Claus at the town's tree lighting ceremony. Slosh is known as a horribly mean man in Learning, and not many people want to see Slosh let alone be friends with him. This is significant to the story because towards the end of the book, Soup and Rob go to Slosh's pool hall to ask him if he will be Santa in the ceremony. This shows great bravery by Soup and Rob because they both know how really terrible of a man he is. The best line that describes Slosh's character in the book is when Rob is telling us how awful of a place that Slosh's pool hall really is. In this line the narrator states, "Rumor persisted that, in Slosh's, a guy who still had both ears and all his teeth was called a sissy." This shows that Slosh is a bad man who hangs around with a mean crowd at his pool hall everyday. Slosh completely changes character by the end of the story from a mean horrible man that everyone is afraid of, to a caring and nice man who children want to hug. Slosh is a great character in the book because he pretty much is the main conflict that Soup and Rob are trying to overcome.

The last main character in the story is Miss Boland. Miss Boland is a woman who all of the children at Soup and Rob's school love to see. She is the schoolteacher's best friend, and when she comes to the school, all of the children know that they are in for a treat in some way. The most significant interaction in the book takes place between Miss Boland, Rob, and Soup. The three decide that Soup and Rob will find a new man to play Santa in place of the old Santa who is sick. By the end of the story, Ms. Boland is still the same kind-hearted woman that she was in the beginning of the book. I really like Ms. Boland in Soup on Ice because she makes the book more interesting with her different announcements at school.

The first scene that describes one of the conflicts in the story takes place at the very beginning of the story when Soup and Rob are walking to school a week before Christmas. They are just entering the Town Square of Learning when they see an Official Buck Jones Daisy Repeater BB Gun in the window of Harry's Hardware Store. They then learn that this is the last BB Gun in Learning from Harry inside of the store. The two boys have written several letters to Santa asking for the gun for Christmas, but they know that they have been "lost" in the mail. For the next two days, this is all that both Rob and Soup can think about. They are presented with the conflict of how to obtain a BB Gun in this scene, and it is the main conflict up until they need to find a new Santa later in the story.

The scene that presents the major conflict in the story takes place at Soup and Rob's schoolteacher, Ms. Kelly's, house. Rob and Soup had just finished shoveling Ms. Kelly's snow, and came inside to have a cup of hot cocoa. They then hear the news from Ms. Boland that the man who usually plays Santa at the lighting ceremony is sick, and will not be able to perform his duty this year. Soup then volunteers himself and Rob to go to Slosh Dubinsky's pool hall to ask Slosh if he would play Santa. This is important because it presents the main conflict to the two boys of trying to get a replacement Santa for the Christmas Tree Lighting in Town Square. This scene is very significant to the book and Robert Newton Peck does a great job explaining it clearly.

The scene that involves the point of greatest tension in Soup on Ice takes place when Soup, Rob, and Slosh (dressed as Santa) are sliding into town across the frozen ice of Learning Lake in a sleigh with a sail that is propelled by the wind. As they are sliding on the lake in their sled/boat invention, the wind begins to pick up and the sled rapidly gains speed. As both brakes snap, and the ropes holding together the steering controls break, the sled is rapidly heading towards a toboggan chute just outside of Town Square. With no way to stop the sled, the two boys and Slosh helplessly glide up the icy slides of the chute at a high speed, and take off into the air. The three fly smack into the gigantic newly light tree in the middle of Town Square. Everyone at the ceremony is totally shocked as the three wild riders brush themselves off after landing in a large pile f snow next to the tree. This leads to the resolution of the conflict because Slosh can now be Santa for all of the kids, and no one was hurt in the wild ride of the sleigh.

The point of view in Robert Newton Peck's Soup on Ice is first person. It is first person because young Rob Peck is the lone narrator of the story, and we can only see his thoughts and feelings in the book. I think that this has a good effect on the story because it leaves the mystery of what other characters such as Soup are really thinking throughout the plot. It added to the meaning of the story because it showed exactly how harsh Slosh really was, and also how bad Rob really wanted the BB Gun. I think that Peck made a good choice in putting the point of view in the first person.

Robert Newton Peck sends a clear message that anyone can change their ways if the circumstances are right. He makes a good choice in setting the story around Christmas because this is the time of the year when people become more generous and giving towards each other. This theme applies to people in general because I think that anyone, no matter how mean they are, can change their ways and become nice around Christmas Time. This theme applies to me personally because every year I take my money out of the bank, and buy gifts for other members of my family that I love. This is an example of myself becoming more generous and kind during the holiday just as Slosh did in the book.

I think that Robert Newton Pecks' Soup on Ice is a truly great and meaningful book. I liked it because it had great characters that enhanced the plot, it had a meaningful plot, and it had a funny and happy ending. This book reinforced my belief that any person in the world can be kind and generous if they really want to be. I would definitely recommend Soup on Ice to anyone who wants to read a fun and heartwarming book, especially around the holiday season. On the Bill Finn book scale of 1 to 10, Soup on Ice receives a 9!