Kingshaw's Character

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  • Kingshaw's character
    • Background
      • Charles Kingshaw is ten years old,
      • He is the only child of Mrs Helena Kingshaw,
      • His father died in the Battle of Britain,
      • He has lived in a variety of houses and hotels since his father's death,
      • He boarded at St. Vincent's school where he was a average and quiet pupil,
    • Characteristics/ Personality,
      • Susan Hill describes Kingshaw as a 'misfit'
        • This is because he is extremely fearful and sensitive even before some thing unpleasant has happened,
        • When Hooper throws the note 'I didn't want you to come here' at Kingshaw, he 'stuffed it fearfully into his trouser pocket' and believes others are stronger and better than him,
        • When Hooper questions him about why he has come to Warings, he 'flushed brick red' and 'stepped back' which shows he believes others are better than him,
      • He is insecure and has low self esteem,
        • When Kingshaw tries to tell Hooper to close the window in his room, it culminates in the violent scrap but after he lacked the confidence to feel good about fighting back,
      • He has a fertile imagination and is over sensitive
        • This is shown when the crow incident occurred and it was circling overhead and Kingshaw thought it would kill him,
        • When Hooper puts the bird in his bed, we are shown his extreme fear where 'he lay stiff, his eye wide open'
        • These two crow incidents show that Kingshaw has real and imagenery fears but never overcomes them,
      • He feels inferior as Kingshaw feels resigned to being the victim and goes from beginning hinking he will be beaten,
      • He has a moral conscience like when Hooper was scared in the thunderstorm, he comforts Hooper in a 'rush of embarrassed kindness' and turns down his chance for revenge,
      • He is afraid of his own capacity for violence 'Kingshaw wanted to hit him and hit him and then he was frightened at the way Hooper made him feel like this.'
      • He is naïve and gullible and he believes what Hooper tells him, like that his grandfather died in Kingshaw's bed and he believed him without question,
    • The reader's feelings towards Kingshaw,
      • He is a sensitive boy and appears babyish at times in the novel,
      • He may be responsible for his death as he didn't defend himself strongly or for long enough,
      • He has suffered the loss of a parent and his mother doesn't seem to care so we feel sorry for him and it is understandable that he is insecure and lacks confidence,
      • He has an amazing capacity to Kindness which we learn to admire which Hill suggests we should as most of the book is from his perspective,
      • We are outraged that such a sensitive boy could have died in such torment and overlapping these feelings are our anger at the parents who could have prevented it,
    • Phobias
      • Main theme in the novel which many readers can relate to,
      • He has a fear of crows when the 'Kingshaw felt the tip if its black wing, beating against his face. He gave a sudden, dry sob'.
        • This chapter uses lots of adverbs like 'rose' and 'caught' which helps the passage move swiftly, and Hill creates this climax to show the intense fear of Kingshaw,
        • It is presented very visually which makes it more dramatic and effective and the reader can see everything that happens so it appeals to them more,
      • He is afraid of moths 'Kingshaw didn't know which was worse, moths alive, with their whirring, pattering wings, or these moths, flattened and pinned and dead.
        • The moths in the red room is an extended metaphor for Kingshaw's mind. It used to be a library so Kingshaws mind used to be safe and peaceful but Hooper gains full access to his mind by stealing the key and is able to discover his fears which are the moths and use them against him,
        • When Hooper gets the key from the small bible to open the moth collection, the key represents the gate to heaven which Hooper, the devil has in his hands. The bible shows him entering heaven and the room full of dead moths shows dead souls which he destroys,
      • He has a fear of water that was 'glassy, artificial blueness of it... the way people's limbs looked huge and pale and swollen underneath.'
        • This is when a boy named Turville had made him jump in the water again and again and his fear made him continuing to do it which shows us he is easily manipulated and fear drives him on,
      • Clowns and the circus 'he wanted to cream and get away, he waited for the animals to go mad and attack.'
        • This experience and fear was based on a previous event at the circus and the bad memories cause him to be fearful as he expected it to happen again,
        • Unlike at Warings, he is surrounded by people at the circus, but this doesn't make him less anxious and it brings him no comfort.


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