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Rock Street, San Francisco
Rock Street, San Francisco

Homelessness was a problem 200 years ago as it is now. Authors Jonathan Swift and Robert Swindells try to eradicate this feature in books. Jonathan wrote an effective pamphlet where homeless children make good food! And Swindells’ book, intended for children, wrote a day to day life of a homeless teenager, but the only catch is there is a serial killer on the loose… In this essay I am going to compare these 2 pieces, Swift’s written in 1729 and a 20th century pamphlet and Swindells’ in 1993, a 20th century book.

I am going to compare the ways the writers have treated the issue of ‘homelessness’ and how successful they have been. Robert Swindells book for children, ‘Stone Cold’ portrays and effective experience of life on the streets. Link the main character is a normal 16 year old lad. He has just left school with no credible GCSEs. His dad ran away with a mistress when he was 14, but now his mum, ‘Sheila’, has a new boyfriend, ‘Vince’, whom Link hates. The new man is his mother’s life is too much for link and the fact that he and Vince are enemies isn’t making matters any better.

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Link is slowly driven out his home in Bradford. Not thrown out, but through emotional hardship that his new ‘dad’ figure is a moron, as he says, “If you happen to know anybody who’s looking for a hundred percent out-and-out bastard, I can let him have Vince’s address. ” He movies in with his sister who lives with her boyfriend, but soon falls homeless in Bradford as staying at her sisters is awkward and her boyfriend makes it clear he doesn’t want Link there. After being homeless in Bradford and all the bad memories fresh in his mind, he decides to move to London for a clean start, a job and a home.

He has a i?? 150, money left from his savings account, and decides to live in a B&B. but soon his rent money runs out and finding no job he finds himself homeless, cold and shattered out on the streets. This is when he invents his new street-name ‘Link’. Link isn’t his real name it is his street name, in order to get a clean break. Swindells invents this name as it is a image of a chain and thus connects the reader to the issue and also because, later on, the name produces the joke ‘Link the stink’ which provides a little, dry humour in the book.

Swindells puts Link on the street because his mum has a new boyfriend whom Link hates. But all-in-all the events leading up to making Link homeless were in my opinion not good enough. Vince firstly started on him for living on his money as Swindells writes, “Vince started on at me about living on his money. ” This carried on until Vince locked him out of the house. Link went over to stay at his sister’s for the night, and when returning home next morning Vince slapped him a few times on the head for worrying his mother. In my opinion this wasn’t a good ‘enough’ reason for link to make himself homeless.

Swindells could have it made it much harsher for Link which would have been made it more effect and real. Swindells also tries to write as a modern 16 year old when portraying Link. He makes lots of references to popular culture at the time (1993) as he write, “I mean, mum’s no Kylie Minogue” I think Swindells is successful at presenting this and refers to modern culture well. The other main character in the book is ‘Shelter’. Shelter is an ex-army soldier who was discharged on medical grounds. Swindells character Shelter is a psychopath on the loose. His aim is to make the homeless in London into an army, an army of the dead.

After Link laughs at him, when shelter tells Link to join the army instead of begging on the streets, Shelter makes Link his next victim. Swindells puts this character in the book to of course produce the plot. Swindells calls him ‘Shelter’ as he is shelter to the homeless as Swindells writes, “Shelter, as in shelter from the stormy blast. It’s what they’re all seeking. The street people. ” Another subtlety in the name Shelter is that the main homeless charity is called ‘Shelter’. Swindells presents Shelter’s speech with a lot of army slang. Shelter’s chapters start with:

“Daily Routine Orders” And mostly end with, “By golly I will. ” His constant reference to words for the homeless, ‘blighters’, ‘dossers’, ‘junkies’ makes him a much more credible and fun character than Link. Most of his speech patterns (sentence structure) are short, clipped sentences’ Swindells main aim in Link is to make the reader appreciate their life. He tries to make the reader understand and empathy the issue of homelessness and at times through the character of Link does this extremely well. But Swindells main aim in Shelter is to produce the plot in the novel and to make it exciting.

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