Realism and Blood Exploration of masculinity in the text
Told through 13 year old Jesse’s eyes in first- person perspective. (Use of the ‘I’ voice). The primary focus is on the children, Jesse and Rachel. The story follows Jesse and Rachel as they are dragged around by their mother Gwen.
Jesse Rachel Gwen Jon Dempsey Pop Ray Crow Limbo
Set in contemporary rural Victoria and on the fringes of Melbourne. Very harsh Australian landscape. Strong imagery – deserted towns, the abandoned ‘Carson’s World in Miniature.’
Gwen does not have a steady job or source of income. She drinks too much and uses drugs. The children are not in school, they are left alone at night, they are not always fed. They are exposed to men who are dangerous. ‘Don’t worry about school. You’re no Einstein. You won’t be missed’ (p.13).
‘We missed out on stuff that a lot of other kids got. Birthdays. Family parties. Food sometimes’ (p. 14). Gwen is estranged from her own father, Pop, who is a recovering alcoholic and confesses that he was a bad father to Gwen.
Jesse narrates the story – we see everything through his eyes. Although he is only 13 years old, he has taken over the role of Rachel’s primary care- giver. He is very young but incredibly world weary.
The first meeting between Jesse and Jon is not a great one: ‘He was covered in tattoos; Gwen’s boyfriends always had tattoos. She said it made men look tough and sexy’ (p. 17). ‘Gwen had a habit of latching onto men who were good with their fists, and Jon didn’t look too different’ (p. 19).
However, despite the way he looks and the fact that he’s spent time in prison, Jon takes good care of Jesse and Rachel. He cooks and cleans, even baking Jesse and Rachel a cake, he takes Rachel to and from school, as he doesn’t like the thought of her walking alone. He spends time with the children, listening to them and giving them advice.
But it is his caring nature which ends his relationship with Gwen and the children. ‘I dunno if you’re just a big kid, the way you hang around with these two all day, or if you’re turning into an old woman with all your mopping and dusting’ (p. 37). Jesse and Rachel are upset when Jon leaves, and they blame Gwen for it.
Gwen’s estranged father looks after Jesse and Rachel when Gwen is flat broke. Initially cold, the children warm to him and he warms to them. He gives the children their first real Christmas as well as their first taste of what a proper home could be.
‘Ray Crow stood out the front of our van in a pair of black jeans, a dirty white t-shirt, a sweat- stained cowboy hat and a pair of black leather boots with silver buckles that jingled when he took a step. He looked like he’d walked out of a cowboy movie. And he was the bad guy’ (p. 92). Jesse’s first impression of Ray Crow is correct. He is a bad guy – abusive, violent, a drug dealer, and possibly a paedophile.
Although Jesse wants to get away from Gwen, he and Rachel are actually forced to run away from Ray Crow and his mate Limbo. Jesse’s stealing of Ray and Limbo’s money is the catalyst for most of the action in the book. Why did Jesse steal from Ray?
Blood is a novel which deals with a realistic plot: two abandoned children who are forced to fend for themselves. Are Jesse and Rachel realistic characters? How? Is this an important story? Why?
In many ways, Blood is told in a realistic manner. The prologue indicates that Jesse is in trouble. The rest of the chapters run in a chronological or linear sequence which explains how Jesse ended up where he did. Set in Australia, most of the settings are familiar to us and easy to envisage or imagine.
Jesse and Rachel are fatherless. Much of the novel is preoccupied with Jesse’s search for a reliable father figure and a stable home for him and his sister. Two men fulfil the father figure role throughout the text: Jon Dempsey and Pop.
Both Pop and Jon have difficult histories – Pop was an alcoholic and Jon spent time in gaol – yet both men have seemingly moved on from their troubled pasts and are able and willing to take care of Jesse and Rachel. However, Gwen is more than happy to be distanced from these men and gets together with the much tougher Ray Crow
Ray, and his mate Limbo, are the epitome of tough guys. Both are criminals, both are violent. They manufacture and sell Meth. They are abusive and have no problems with hurting men, women, elderly people or children. Gwen eventually sees Ray for what he is, but by then it is too late.
Jesse is an interesting character, and despite his mother’s mockery, he is quite intelligent. He is drawn to male figures who are caring and kind, and he sees other men like Ray and Limbo for what they are almost immediately. Moreover his sense of responsibility for Rachel is overwhelming.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3exzMPT4n GI http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3exzMPT4n GI
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