Book Study of "The other Side of the Fence"
Title: The Other Side of the Fence
Author: Jean Ure
Date of Publication: 1993
POINT OF VIEW:-
The point of view is "Eye of God," but sometimes it speaks out the main character's thoughts as if it were him narrating it.
"Richard looked up. A boy dressed in baggy jeans and a thick, army-green sweater was pushing his way towards them. He was about the same age as Richard, several inches shorter but a good deal stockier. He jerked his head at Bonny.
Bonny hesitated. She looked back at Richard.
'So are you coming or not?'
'Oh, I suppose... if you really insist --'
'Suit yourself' said Vic.
'No, that's all right.' Bonny slipped her hand into Richard's. 'We're coming.'
Altered to 1st person - Richard's view:
I looked up to see Vic, the boy who owned the squat. He was dressed in baggy jeans and an army-green sweater, and was pushing towards us. He looked to be about my age, but a few inches shorter than me. He jerked his head at Bonny, and said OK. Bonny seemed to hesitate, and looked at me, and asked if I was coming or not. I thought about the ups and downs, weighed up the pros and cons, but decided to, so I replied that I would if she insists. And the Vic said cockily 'Suit yourself.' Bonny replied and said 'No, that's all right, we're coming, and slipped her hand into mine.
This would make the book worse, because you wouldn't see everything from reading the book as you need to sometimes to make any sense. For instance at the start, Richard is contemplating picking up Bonny when she is trying to hitch a lift. The narrator switches from person to person, explaining what they are thinking at each point of time.
"... I can always hitch another lift', Bonny said.
'You oughtn't to do that sort of thing."
'It's dangerous. Any pervert could stop and pick you up.'
'Like you I s'pose.'
Yes. Absolutely. He looked down at the pieces of broken biscuit still in his hand.
'Here, I was only joking!' said Bonny.
She might be. His old man wasn't.
'Drink your coffee,' he said. 'It'll get cold.'
With surprising meekness, she did so. Obviously felt that she had upset him, and wanted to make amends.
She hadn't upset him. From now on he wasn't going to let himself be upset. He was going to be tough and independent. Go his own way, do his own thing. He took off his glasses and peered round, short-sightedly, for something to wipe them on.
This bit I find effective because it seems to switch between the 3rd person point of view of Bonny to Richard, without much warning, not so much as a new chapter. But also, the bit I am talking about '... wanted to make amends. She hadn't upset him...' can be read as both ways. The middle bit 'wanted to make amends' can be read from Bonny's or Richard's 3rd person point of view. I also think this paragraph is effective because it gives a little and a little more of what Richard's personality is like, of which it does often. It is always feeding you information, slowly. Like for example this bit, it shows that for all of Richard's life, his father had told him what to do, where to go and more importantly what he did wrong.
The name of the character I have chosen is Bonny.
I like Bonny because she speaks her mind, and does not seem to care all that much about what people think of her.
"'Bonny stood watching him go. Toffee-nosed prat! Who did he think he was, looking at her like that? Like something the cat had brought up. Queen of England? "
But there is one aspect about her that I dislike, which is that she seems to be very dependent on an ex-boyfriend, which I see as a great weakness. She sort of looks up at him as if he is an indestructible, can do no wrong guru, when he is actually a loser. She is always relaying to the reader about 'what Jake would have said' about Richard, about the lady behind the counter and nearly everything else. But that wears off towards the end of the book.
"Seven o'clock on a Sunday morning? You must be joking! She could hear Jake saying it. His voice full of impatience and scorn."
"Acting without thinking, that was what Jake called it."
She had been stupid enough, in the early days, to tell Jake about Nobby and Bo. He had said, 'Nobby and Bo? What kind of names are Nobby and Bo?"
Because the author is talking in 3rd person, but a strange 3rd person, it is hard to tell about the author's description, but I get the general feel from what Richard says.
"A few yards further on he passed a girl standing by the roadside in a long flouncing skirt down to her ankles and a baggy tweed coat which looked like a man's."
"The coat was a mans. The buttons were on the wrong side and the pockets hung down to .her knees."
This automatically makes you think that Bonny has had a hard life, getting clothes from where she can, and hitching rides to where ever she needs to go. This description did not really change my opinions, because this book is in 3rd person, but it switches from Richard's 3rd person to Bonny's and back, so I had gotten a pretty good description of Bonny in my head prior to that, and had already gotten opinions on her.
One aspect I liked in this novel was the point of view. It did not only have 3rd person narration, but even then that changed between the two main characters, so you get a huge in depth look at not only one, but both the main characters. So this meant that if Richard and Bonny were looking at each other, Richard would describe Bonny, and in the next paragraph Bonny would describe Richard.
I feel that the ending was EXCELLENT!! It was a real surprise. Richard was kicked out of home by his Dad because of his girlfriend, Jan. But no... up till the end you thought that Jan was a girl, but actually is a boy, and Jan is pronounced Yan. So Richard's Dad is actually a homophobic. I think it is a great ending. You wonder all through the book why Richard was kicked out because of his girlfriend, and at the end you really need to look at the book all over again, but with a different perspective.
i) The value of friendship, when you are alone.
ii) The author wants to teach us that when you are alone, and do not know what to do, you really need a friend, who may be more experienced than you at being alone. You may need that friend for comfort, or just to show you how to look after yourself in the urban jungle.
This example is the blurb from the back cover.
"Thrown out of the house by his father, Richard suddenly wakes up to the fact that he has no idea what to do, no money and nowhere to go. Even Jan is away. For the first time in his life, Richard is on his own. Then he meets Bonny..."
iii) I do agree with the point the author is making. For example, if a person who used to be well sheltered, looked after and nearly every thing was done for him/her, and they all of a sudden found themselves on the street, the would not know what to do, and they may get ripped off, mugged or anything.