This book ‘Noughts and Crosses’ originally written by Malorie Blackman is about two people – Callum and Sephy- who are from opposite sides of society but are madly in LOVE. A play was derived from the book by Dominic Cooke and was performed by the Royal Shakespeare company in civic, Stratford-upon-Avon on the 29th of November 2007.
In the book there are two sides of society, the Noughts and the Crosses. The noughts are the white people and the Crosses are the black People. This is very different form our current society as today all the White (Nought) people have the power whereas in the book the Black (Cross) people have all the power.
Sephy, whose full name is Persephone Hadley, is a cross and is extremely rich because he father is the Deputy Prime Minister. Callum on the other hand is a nought and is extremely poor because only his father works. In their world, White noughts and Black crosses simply don’t mix- and they certainly don’t fall in love. But that is exactly what they have done.
Callum’s mother used to work for Sephy’s mum, that’s how they met each other, while Callum’s mum was working he was allowed to play with Sephy in the Hadley’s huge rose garden. His mum was the Housekeeper/nanny for the Hadley household and was really good friends with Sephy’s mum but one day out of the blue she was fired and ever since theMcGregors have been having money problems.
There are many characters in this book; there is the Hadley’s (Sephy’s Family) which consists of Kamal Hadley (Dad), Jasmine Hadley (Mum) and Minerva Hadley (Sister). There is also the McGregor’s (Callum’s Family) which consists of Ryan McGregor (Dad), Meggie McGregor (Mum), Jude McGregor (Older brother) and Lynette McGregor (Older Sister).
The McGregor’s are probably closer to each other than the Hadley’s because Kamal is divorcing Jasmine and marrying his girlfriend, Grace. Also like all sibling Sephy and Minerva and Callum, Lynette and Jude don’t get along. There are times in the book were Minerva is a perfect older sister and Sephy a perfect younger one like when Sephy is leaving for Chiver’s.
Callum and Lynette are very close, they understand and care for each other but Jude on the other hand is extremely heartless and cares for no one but himself. He calls Lynette ….
‘She’s a ruddy Nutter’ (pg 17) and he also calls her
‘Stupid cow’ (pg 18)
And he calls Callum….
‘And Callum’s no better- Lord of the Ruddy Manor’ (pg 17)
The book has a very obvious class system, there are the Crosses who have everything-good schools, great jobs, big houses, shopping malls, servants (usually noughts), money always on hand in an emergency and all the power, whereas noughts on the other hand have very little- a few poorly facilitated schools, small houses, huge families, bad jobs, little pay and very little say in the economy.
In the beginning of the book, they are both extremely happy because they have just kissed and proved their love for one another. Callum is overjoyed because she allowed him to kiss her and Sephy is extremely happy because Callum kissed her and because He’s going to go to school with her at Heathcroft.
At this point in the book, Sephy is very naive and believes that everything’s going to be okay, and she’ll show him around and introduce him to her friends and they’ll all love him. But Callum is aware of the problems there going to face, like how he’ll be treated and if they spend time with together at the school she might lose all her friends because usually Noughts and Crosses don’t even talk to each other politely let alone be friends. But Sephy refuses to believe this and in her mind establishes as rubbish.
‘Maybe it’d be better if we didn’t talk to each other when were at school’ (pg 15)
‘I don’t want you to lose any of your friends because of me’ (pg 15)
Then, when they arrive at school and there is the huge crowd of people saying
‘NO BLANKERS IN OUR SCHOOL! NO BLANKERS IN OUR SCHOOL! NO BLANKERS IN OUR SCHOOL!’ (pg 20)
At this point in the book Sephy, realizes that Callum was right about what’s going to happen, this is sort of the turning point for her where she slowly starts to understand the problems that are going to occur in her relationship with Callum and the other Noughts.
But when Sephy tries to help…
‘STOP IT! YOU’RE ALL BEHAVING LIKE ANIMALS! ………… WORSE THEN ANIMALS! LIKE BLANKERS!'(PG 20)
….Things go horribly wrong.
The words are like a slap in the face for Callum as he never expected something like this from her.
Then on the beach, when Sephy tries to apologize and says she didn’t mean it I didn’t mean you. It proves that the problems they were going to face in their relationship are slowly coming true. This also the day where Sephy learns the power of words.
But all goes well because Sephy promises him that she will never use the word again, a promise she breaks later on in the book. All is forgiven and Callum goes home but there is still tension in their relationship, like Callum is starting to question if his judgment of Sephy was wrong.
Sephy hopes their relationship will improve but things keep getting worse for them.
The next day, Sephy tries to sit at the noughts table at school but Callum ignores her and she’s pulled away by Mr Corsa. This just shows the disgust for noughts.
‘Some best friend’ (pg 27)
To make everything worse Sephy gets beaten up because she is friends with Callum and because she sat at the noughts table.
‘Blank, white faces with not a hint of colour in them. Blank minds that can’t hold a single original thought. Blank, Blank, Blank.’ (pg 30)
This shows the bias against the noughts and how they are treated like rubbish. According to most of the crosses the noughts are like poo on a shoe you want to scrape off.
Their relationship gets even worse as Sephy’s Mother (Jasmine) gives strict orders that Callum is not allowed to visit Sephy, and this makes Sephy think that he doesn’t care as Jasmine doesn’t tell her that Callum came to visit.
A week later, when Sephy returns to school, and Callum tells her he did come to visit, she’s not sure who to believe. He tells her Jasmine gave orders he was not t be let in, later that evening they meet on the beach and Sephy believes him because she says it’s the kind of thing her mother does. They are both happy as Callum believes Sephy trusts that he is telling the truth and Sephy believes that he came to visit and he still cares about what happens to her.
‘I’m your friend and always will be’ (pg 41)
However, things get even worse for them when Lynette dies and Sephy attends the wakening. Callum is glad to have her there because she’s the only one who really understands him but the joy doesn’t last. He isn’t surprised by the way his family reacts towards her company. Sephy on the other hand is completely shocked because she hoped she would be welcome into the house and treated like a family member but she is treated so badly. She is surprised by how much has changed in the last three and the hurt feelings in the McGregor family for what her mother did.
Their romance slowly starts to recover and they talk on the phone like any ordinary couple, she complains to him about having to go shopping with her mother and he laughs. They also make plans to meet in the shopping mall and maybe have a picnic after. It’s just like any other teenage couple filled with puppy love.
While Sephy is at the mall with her mother, Callum is with his family at home having lunch when he announces he’s going to the shopping mall. Ryan forbids his son to go to the mall and so does Jude. He pieces this together with the fact that his father and brother are in the Liberation Militia which is an organization which tries to get noughts the freedom they deserve using force and terrorism. He realizes that there is a bomb in the shopping mall and that his lover and her mother are in the shopping centre that is going to blow up in less than an hour.
He rushes in to the shopping mall, his heart pounding and spends a half hour trying to find her in the magical majestic mall. A wave of relief washes over him when he sees her sitting in the cuckoo cafï¿½ all by herself drinking some orange juice. The fact that she’s alone is even better because it’ll be easier to get her out of there. He rushes over to her and drags her out of the mall, she’s delighted to see him and they keep running, he knows they mustn’t stop because the bomb will go off any second. BOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!
He’s very proud of himself that he got her out but he can’t help wondering what happened to her mother. Sephy on the other hand is completely shocked at what just happened and is so grateful to Callum when she realizes she hasn’t seen her mother anywhere.
Then everything starts going downhill for the both of them. As Callum’s Father and brother are kicked out of the house and Callum’s father admits to have planted the bomb to save Jude (brother) even though he planted the bomb. His father is allowed to get a lawyer, Callum and his mother search feverishly for a good lawyer with a small pay but all the lawyers the find are really bad, when suddenly the best lawyer in the country- Kelani Adams says she’ll take Ryan’s (father) case and everything has been payed for. Callum thinks that is was Sephy but it was actually Jasmine Hadley.
But even so, Ryan is sentenced to be hanged for Political Terrorism and seven accounts of murder and Jasmine (Sephy’s Mother) makes her attend the hanging at Hewmett Prison. Callum is naturally there because it may be the last few minutes he ever gets to spend with his dad and seeing Sephy there is like a punch in his gut because he thought she would find these things revolting and misleading about noughts but obviously he was wrong as here she comes in the same dress which she wore to Lynette’s Funeral.
Sephy on the other hand is absolutely appalled at being in the prison and tries to send Callum a thought telling him that she really didn’t want to come and she was forced to by her mother because it was apparently their duty to watch a being hanged.
When suddenly just second before Ryan is hanged there is a change of plan and his sentence has been changed to life sentence.
At the same time, Callum is suspended from school because all the crosses believe him to a terrorist just like his father, He decides that he would save his family from further information and just leave. He leaves the school with no immediate plans of ever returning.
That night Callum goes to Sephy’s bedroom and they spend the night together and they get all the things that have been annoying them and sort them out. They dream about running away together and imagine what it would be like if it was just the two of them in a place where noughts and crosses were equal. In the end, Callum realizes she is still the Sephy he knows and loves and Sephy learns that Callum trusts her. They think they are going to be together forever. But what they don’t know that the impossible is just about to happen.
‘Maybe we should go away together’ (Callum pg 89)
The next day, on the news they hear that Ryan McGregor has committed suicide by trying to escape and running into an electric fence and Sephy’s parent decide that she should take some time of from the McGregor family and they decide that the way to do that is to send her to Chiver’s Boarding School.
‘We think it would be best of we took you out of Heathcroft, We’ve made enquires at Chivers. They’ve got a place; they could take you in next term.’ (Kamal, pg 84)
Kamal is probably feeling a little smug about this.
On September the twelfth, the d ay before Sephy was to leave for Chivers, she wrote a letter to Callum telling him to collect her tomorrow so they could run away together, The letter was supposed to be delivered by Sarah, who is Jasmine’s Personal Nought Secretary, but the letter arrives just as Callum leaves the house forever.
Callum, who is sitting in a burger bar, thinks that all the talk about running away was just a fairy talk as he hasn’t heard form Sephy since the night they spent together and tomorrow she was to leave for Chivers. When he runs into Jude, they talk about everything that’s happened and Jude offers Callum to join the Liberation Militia. He thinks that it would make his father very proud so he accepts the offer and goes home to pack his bags and doesn’t tell his mother anything about where he’s going, he just says,
‘I’m going away…………… And I need to do something for Dad’ (pg 97)
Just as he leaves the house forever, the letter which Sephy wrote to him arrives.
The next day, Sephy eagerly waits for Callum’s arrival but keeps questioning if he will come. In the end he doesn’t come and she leaves for Chivers.
Two Years Later,
Sephy, returns from Chivers and finds a letter awaiting her from Callum, telling her to meet him tonight on her Father’s private beach.
She is overjoyed because she believed that after all these years he would have forgotten her also that he didn’t want to see her because he didn’t come to run away with her.
She eagerly waits for him on the beach when all of a sudden….
‘Surprise’ (Callum pg 100)
Their eyes meet and he kisses her, but she sense’s something is wrong and her suspicion is confirmed when Callum apologizes and realizes she is being surround by naught men. She tries to escape but it’s too late, Jude punches her and she passes out from the pain.
When she regains conscience she realizes they are in a hideout in the middle of no-where, when Callum enters and cuts a lock of her hair, and wants her to read what is on a sheet of newspaper so he can fill it and send to her father. She refuses and Jude forces her to say those words when Leila walks in and wants to see the ‘silver spoon’. This shows that Leila is clearly jealous of Sephy has she has always had everything she wants.
Leila also kisses Callum when she’s told to leave and calls him sweetie proving even more her jealousy and how she’s not one of the modest people. Callum convinces Sephy to read what is on te newspaper, but as she reads it she starts crying because inside her, the heart is broken because Callum- her best friend, boyfriend and lover- betrayed her.
Sephy’s kidnappers send the tape of Sephy reading what’s on the newspaper, a lock of her hair and her blood stained t-shirt to her father with specific instructions. They assign roles and Callum is told to stay behind with Sephy to make sure she doesn’t escape.
When they have all left, Callum goes to give Sephy her dinner and realizes she is still in pain form where Jude punched her because he finds her lying on her back rubbing her tummy.
The he kisses her because he realizes she is still the girl he has loved and he realizes that no matter he will always love her. Then they make Love.
‘Not quite heaven, not quite hell’ (Both pg 110)
This shows that even though they have made love, it’s wonderful but they it’s the first and last time. Immediately after Sephy bursts into tears. Jude and Morgan return and Callum finds out that Leila has been arrested and Pete is dead, Jude thinks that Callum raped Sephy and Jude and Callum get into fight giving Sephy enough time to escape. They rush after her and Callum’s the one who finds her and tells he the directions to reach civilization as they are in the middle of a dense forest.
Sephy later on finds out that she is pregnant. Kamal naturally doesn’t want Sephy to keep the baby because he knows it would affect his career. Then, Callum and Sephy meet on their private beach to discuss everything and to find ou the truth about Sephy’s pregnancy. Sephy also revels why she cried the night they made love…
‘When we made love, I knew for sure I loved you. That I always have and I always will. But I also realised what you’ve trying to tell me all these years. You’re a Nought and I’m a Cross and there’s no way we could ever be together. Even if we’d gone away, we would’ve lasted a year, maybe two. But sooner or later, other people would’ve found a way to wedge us apart. That’s what made me cry’ (Sephy pg 115)
This shows that Sephy all the events in the book have caused Sephy to grow up and realise the reality of things and at this point she isn’t the naï¿½ve girl we first met in the beginning of the book. They talk about what they want to name the child, if it’s a boy it’s going to be called Ryan after Callum’s Dad, and if its girl it’s going to be called Callie Rose because Sephy chose Callie and Callum chose Rose. They enjoy like the secret meeting like it was the old times before Sephy went to Chiver’s and Callum joined the Liberation Militia when suddenly they are surrounded by policemen and Callum is arrested for rape.
Kamal decides that it is time to put the two of them in a situation where eh is sure he will win but his plan doesn’t exactly work. He gives them the choice that either Sephy has an ABORTION or Callum is to HANG for kidnapping and rape.
Callum decides that he would rather have his baby live in the world with Sephy. The days in the prison pass quickly and he soon becomes friends with a nought guard called Jack. They play poker and rummy together and they understand each other. However no one is allowed to visit Callum and he isn’t allowed a lawyer meaning he will definitely hang on matter what.
The day of the hanging, a hood is put over his head so the audience can’t see the face of the victim during the hanging. Sephy and Callum yell and say how much they love each other. Then the trapdoor gives and Callum’s body is lifeless.
The very last scene is of Sephy holding her newly born baby Callie Rose on her father’s private beach feeling glad that she still has a part of Callum with her.
The author and the dramatist want us to feel the emotions they are feeling and they want us to question our perceptions of the outside world. They also use very powerful descriptive words which pull on our heart strings and make us feel the pain of betrayal, the joy of the baby and the shock of the riot. This allows us to mirror the powerful and sometimes devasting emotions. It also makes the book feel more realistic and gives us a visual image of the book.
I really liked this play because it was absolutely amazing and it was a very powerful and moving story of undying love.