The Simple Gift Study Notes

* First person account brings a direct understanding of the experiences and perspectives of each character and to each other. * The lyrical format brings a harmonious quality to the interactions and expressions. * The novel stands as a metaphor for life within a challenging social and family structure – and the seamless way in which children often live their lives homeless without being detected. * The novel has a swift reading style and an appeal for reluctant readers, which enhances its ability to convey meaning.

Billy’s compassion and gratitude allowed Caitlin and Old Bill see and live their own lives differently. * Billy rejects himself as a reject, a thief and a troubled character. * The frequent use of creative, strong imagery aids in presenting the idea of belonging from each character’s point of view. * Billy describes his house as a “shithole” in “nowheresville”, which displays the image of Billy lacking a real home, and does not belong in his own house.

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* A consequence of Billy’s unanswered need for belonging is his low self-esteem and his lack of an identity.  Billy is alienated and believes the only way of getting past this is attempting to be accepted in a different social environment. * The cause of Billy’s alienation appears to be the physical and psychological abuse of his father, the absence of a caring parent in his life (possibly his mother), and his neglected, run-down neighbourhood, which he constantly refers to as “deadbeat”, “downtrodden” and a “no-hoper”. This paints an image of a lonely, decrepit, depressing environment.  Billy is lost until he is finally accepted in Bendarat by Caitlin and Old Bill. * The novel demonstrates the importance and need of belonging to a certain social group and the negative effects of alienation.

* The poem “Sport” portrays the “pain and suffering” of Billy due to the “soulless tyranny” of his father “the old bastard”. The use of explosive and descriptive language depicts the poor relationship between Billy and his father, and the perspective in which Billy sees the world.  Old Bill is a self-imposed outcast, due to his trauma suffered from the death of his daughter, Jessie, powerfully revealed by “I fell with her, and I’ve been falling ever since”. Old Bill is homeless, not due to financial reasons, but due to his previous home reminding him of his daughter. * From Old Bill’s perspective, he seems to not care much about life before meeting Billy, turning to alcoholism and wasting his life.

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