Spies - Character of Keith
The interaction between Keith and Stephen provides much of the dynamic of the novel. Keith is an unpleasant boy, a show-off and a bully. However, he is also bullied and abused by his father - he is a victim as well as a bully.
1) Keith is a show-off and a liar.
He tries to impress Stephen with exaggerated claims about his family. For example, he claims that his father killed 5 Germans in the First World War. We never find out if this is true or not but we suspect that it is a lie. Whilst it is possible for a young man in the First World War to be the father of a boy Keith's age in the Second World War, we know that his claim that his parents won the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament is untrue and we know that the 'bayonet' inte trunk is only a bread knife. Therefore, we suspect that Keith's claim about his father in the war is also untrue.
2) Keith is neither bright nor popular.
Not bright: For example, Keith misspells 'private'. Stephen decides not to mention it but he is aware that Keith's spelling is poor. Mrs Hayward isn't surprised that Keith can't spell 'private' which suggests that this is a regular occurence.
Not popular: For example, Barbara says that the other children don't like Keith: 'He's so stuck-up. Everyone except you really hates him'. This seems to be true as he is never part of the crowd of children in the street who follow the policeman or play together.
3) Keith is unpleasant and nasty.