Andrew Blumenthaw isn’t the first bully Mark encounters in “He Was Weird” but is a significant one is his eyes. Furthermore, Andrew doesn’t bully Mark in the traditional physical way. The closest he comes to that is he threatens he’s going to punch Mark’s lights out when Mark jumps over the ball in a kick ball game and an instance where he rips up a picture that Mark brings to school. Instead, Andrew uses exclusion as his bullying tool and as I pointed out in a post a long time ago, that can be more painful than punches.
The trigger for Andrew’s bullying is during a soccer game against the other fifth grade class. Mark plays very badly in the game and that is enough evidence for Andrew to conclude that Mark sucks at all sports. When Andrew challenges the other class to a revenge American football game after school, he clearly informs Mark that he’s not playing because he’s not good enough. That is the first of many instances where he refuses to let Mark join in any games.
The only other major instance in the story is when Andrew joins up with another boy to tell some of the kids at the other school in Ramsgate about Mark’s weirdness. Together, they mention everything about Mark from his miscommunication about breaking the world’s running record to his backfired joke about his cousin playing second base for the Cincinnati Reds and even mention his incorrect answer about the height of the Statue of Liberty. Naturally, they make Mark to out to be some sort of freak, succeeding in their objective to humiliate him and while it seems harmless at the time, it does have consequences when he gets to middle school.
Like I stated, Mark suffers no physical harm at the hands of Andrew. However, Andrew’s refusal to let Mark join in erodes Mark’s self esteem. In Andrew’s eyes, Mark feels he can’t do anything right and that carries over to other people like teachers. That is why that in the climactic part of the story where Mark finally gets his revenge, Andrew receives four bullets, two of which shatter his spinal chord. What Mark doesn’t know is that Andrew does make a miracle recovery although he is wheelchair bound for the rest of his life.
There is some background on Andrew in the story that gives clues as to why he would bully Mark. It is briefly mentioned that he is the youngest of three brothers and suffers some bullying at the hands of his two older brothers. Like, Matt Royston in “Nineteen Minutes” and Zorro in “Endgame,” he is also an alpha male. He excels in both sport and academics while at the same time seems not to suffer fools, which he perceives Mark to be. That is why he picks on him and makes him feel worthless and why Mark names Andrew in his dying declaration. In it, Mark states that he is going to show Andrew something that he is really good at.
Andrew Blumenthaw was loosely based on a boy named Andrew Blumenfeld and he treated me in a way similarly to the the character based on him treats Mark. He wouldn’t let me join in sports with his peers and did tell all about my supposed “lies.” I also know that he was the youngest of three boys and might have suffered some bullying at the hands of the his brothers and he was an alpha male but none of that matters when you’re on the receiving end of the fallout. Now he might say that he gave me a chance. He did let me briefly join in playing street hockey but that only lasted after my first mistake. It seemed like after one mistake, he thought, “Okay, you suck, get of of here.”
In the story, Mark develops a fantasy world where he is a great ice hockey player and I did the same. Very few believed my little fantasy and Andrew was a strong opponent of it. For him, it was damning proof that I was some sort of liar. What he didn’t realise that it was his treatment of me that helped me create that fantasy world.
Time does heal all wounds and if you ask, do I still hate Andrew Blumenfeld? The answer is no. Do I forgive him? In a sense yes but to obtain full forgiveness, he would have to admit his transgressions towards me and be genuinely sorry. Otherwise, that forgiveness would be hollow.
Next post: Liz Clover
To buy He Was Weird, go to: http://www.amazon.co.uk/He-Was-Weird-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1909740942/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435048126&sr=1-1&keywords=he+was+weird