One day in the year of the fox
Came a time remembered well
When a strong young man of the rising sun
Of the toiling of the great black bell.
One day in the year of the fox
When the bell began to ring
But the time had come for one to go
To the temple of the king.
“We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver is probably the most difficult book to apply here. True, like the other books I’m posting about, the main character, Kevin Katchadourian, does commit a school shooting, only he uses a crossbow. However, unlike Gray and Peter in the previous books, Kevin is never bullied. In fact, it is learned that the other students at his high school give him a wide berth. If anything, Kevin is more of a bully, especially in regards to his younger sister.
It is best to look at the socio-economic circumstances of Kevin’s family and the local community. Kevin’s mother runs a very successful travel agency and is quite wealthy as a result. His father is self employed in what I think is a really cool job. He scouts out possible sites for billboards for companies to advertise on. In any case, his family is well off. The community reflects the family’s economic circumstances. The town is very affluent, the reason why they moved there.
So, the question is: Why did he do it? What made him trick seven students, a teacher and a caretaker into the gym, lock them in and then massacre them? The only survivors were one student and the caretaker. Like I said, Kevin wasn’t bullied and he was the socio-economic equal of those he killed.
The answer lies with Kevin himself. Throughout the book, Kevin’s mother, Eva, voices her concerns over her son. From his childhood, there are many instances of anti-social and even violent behaviour which only worsens as Kevin grows older. Furthermore, he doesn’t seem to care who he hurts or how much he hurts them. From causing his sister to lose and eye to ending a teacher’s career by making a false allegation, Kevin seems to be turning into a sociopath, which culminates in the school massacre.
What I deduce from reading “We Need to Talk About Kevin” is that anti-social behaviour is not limited to social class or wealth and even those who ‘have it all’ are capable of snapping and committing atrocities, even if they weren’t bullied.
Next post: Rupture
To buy my own book, “He Was Weird,” go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Publisher-Generation-Publishing/dp/B00SLVHRFG/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36I8I1G32U0R4&dchild=1&keywords=he+was+weird&qid=1603748172&s=books&sprefix=he+was+%2Cstripbooks%2C148&sr=1-1
Trust I seek and I find in you
Everyday for us, something new
Open mind for a different view
And nothing else matters.
Never cared for what they do
Never cared for what they know
But I know.
Carrying on with the theme of socio-economic factors in bullying, this week’s posts features the novel, “Endgame” by the late Nancy Garden. A quick synopsis of the story: Gray Wilton moves to a small town in Connecticut after he pulls a knife on a school bully in his previous town. Unfortunately for Gray, the move does not end the bullying as he soon becomes the target of the popular jocks. Throughout the story, he is on the wrong end of some horrific bullying but he pushes away anyone who tries to help him. Worse, his family seem to be of no help either. In the end, Gray goes into the school and shoots dead four people and wounds a few more.
While it doesn’t come out and say so, the story is set in a typical small town in American suburbia. Gray’s family, while not rich, don’t go without either. As for Gray’s chief bully, Zorro, there is no indication of his socio-economic circumstances. What we do know is that he is the top jock at the school and like it is with so many American high schools, gets treated like a mollycoddled God, allowed to throw his brute privilege around with little or no consequence. A perceived outcast such as Gray is a prime target for such a bully, especially if he receives no sanction from school authorities.
So my question is: Is the socio-economic setting in “Endgame” typical of white suburbia in America? Where schools push sports over learning and where the jocks are allowed to do what they want with little or no impunity? I think the answer is ‘yes’ and Nancy hit the nail square on the head in the story.
Next post: We Need to Talk About Kevin
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Publisher-Generation-Publishing/dp/B00SLVHRFG/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36I8I1G32U0R4&dchild=1&keywords=he+was+weird&qid=1603196399&s=books&sprefix=he+was+%2Cstripbooks%2C148&sr=1-1
I’ll just need a sample cause no says it’s wrong
It’s so easy to rip off using someone else’s songs
Everybody wants to be a star in modern days
But if I don’t have talent, I’ll just get by this way.
Changing programs faster than I dare to say
Musicians all make mistakes who needs them anyway?
One, make some money; two, over expose
Sincerity is felt much more when the human factor shows.
God, I just realized this title sounds like I’m about to give a university lecture. Trust me, I’m not. As a result of last week’s post, inspired by Chateau Cherrie, I’ve decided to look at socio- economic factors in bullying through the medium of books I read when I was writing my book, “He Was Weird.” Admission and I admitted it to some of the authors: I read a lot of these books to make sure I wasn’t accused of plagiarism when my own work was completed.
The first book I’ll look at is “Nineteen Minutes” by well known author Jodi Picoult. A quick synopsis of the book: Set in the town of Sterling, New Hampshire, we meet Peter Houghton, a boy who gets so badly bullied from his first day in Kindergarten through to high school that he eventually snaps and shoots up his school, killing ten and wounding eight. Peter is arrested, tried and convicted and sentenced to life without parole. He later commits suicide in prison.
In the story, Sterling is a small rural town, the type where everyone knows everyone else’s business, or so they think. The town’s rural setting provides a lot of opportunities for hunting. Peter’s father is a hunter and this provides Peter with access to guns for the big day, although he stole his main gun of choice. Like so many small towns in the US, it is under the influence of the richer, more powerful families who reside there. Thus, it provides an avenue for spoiled rich kids to throw around their brute privilege on the lesser mortals. One such bully to arise from this setting is Courtney Ignatio who uses her ‘privilege’ to bully and humiliate Peter.
Peter doesn’t exactly come from the ‘poor side of town.’ His father is a university lecturer, mother is a midwife. Therefore, the Houghton’s enjoy a pretty decent standard of living. However, it doesn’t stop the bullying Peter receives.
While it didn’t matter at the time, I don’t remember any mention in the story of Matt Royston’s socio-economic circumstances. He is Peter’s chief bully. What we do know is that Matt is the school’s star ice hockey player and a total alpha-male. He uses his athletic prowess and his popularity in school as his catalyst for bullying Peter. This brings me to the point about many schools in America. They might not admit it but many high schools do push sports over learning and treat the jocks as molly-coddled gods. This is why Matt is able to bully without impunity and being an alpha-male, encourages his friends to bully Peter too.
In conclusion: bullies can arise from anywhere, that’s a given. In the case of Sterling, it’s a small close-minded community, (the homosexual Math teacher had to stay in the closet), where the rich and athletic are treated like Gods and have carte blanche in throwing around their brute privilege. Thus, it’s a great breeding ground for bullies.
Next post: Endgame
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Publisher-Generation-Publishing/dp/B00SLVHRFG/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36I8I1G32U0R4&dchild=1&keywords=he+was+weird&qid=1602500551&s=books&sprefix=he+was+%2Cstripbooks%2C148&sr=1-1
I found the simple life ain’t so simple
When I jumped out on that road
I go no love, no love you’d call real
Ain’t got nobody waiting at home
Ah yeah, runnin’ with the devil.
Rest in peace Eddie Van Halen
And when some local kid gets down
They try an’ drum him outta town
They say ya coulda least have faked it boy, faked it boy
At an early age he hits the streets
Winds up tired to who he meets
And he’s unemployed, unemployed ow
And the cradle will rock, yes the cradle will rock
Rest in peace Eddie Van Han
Very recently, I read another inspiring post from anti-bullying blogger Chateau Cherie. Over the past few months, she has written some posts which has given me plenty of food for thought. You should definitely check her blog out: https://cheriewhite.blog/
One of Cherie’s latest posts talks about the socio-economic background of bullies. In her experience, it seems that many of her bullies were from lower economic groups, many were from single parent families, living on State benefits and many had run-ins with the law. When I was reading the post, my thoughts drifted towards one of TV’s most notorious bullies, Nelson Muntz from the cartoon series, “The Simpsons.” Over the thirty years the series has been going, we do get insights into Nelson’s home life. Basically, he ticks just about every box in Cherie’s post. He lives in a single parent family, (mother, father seems to be nowhere in sight), who is also on welfare. Nelson’s sad life at home is the perfect recipe for him to become a bully because he is lashing out against it and woe betide any victim.
The thing about bullying, however, is that it transcends socio-economic classes. Rich kids, especially the spoiled ones, are just as likely to be bullies as the so-called poor kids. In fact, some of these bullies think they are untouchable because of their status. If they ever get in trouble, for bullying or anything else, they know that daddy can write a check and it all goes away. This was more my experience with bullying.
Writing about this has given me inspiration for the next few posts. When I first started writing “Peaceful Rampage,” I explored books about bullying victims who went onto shoot up their school and tied it into my own book, “He Was Weird.” Therefore, my next few posts will look at the socio-economic factors behind the bullies and their victims.
Next post: “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult
To buy He Was Weird, go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Was-Weird-Publisher-Generation-Publishing/dp/B00SLVHRFG/ref=sr_1_1?crid=36I8I1G32U0R4&dchild=1&keywords=he+was+weird&qid=1601915536&s=books&sprefix=he+was+%2Cstripbooks%2C148&sr=1-1