The text “A Boy Called It” by Dave Pelzer allowed me to form strong opinions on the issue child abuse and influenced my emotional involvement in the novel. The novel is written from the child’s point of view, this technique allowed me to become involved by seeing life through his eyes. The tone and vocabulary used also reflect the age and wisdom of the child at that particular time. The first section of a trilogy explores the child’s life from age four until he was twelve years old.
The novel begins with his freedom, and how his life turned out and then goes back to the beginning of his childhood, beginning with the good times and how things changed. The main themes explored are childhood and relationships between the child and his mother, his father, his brothers and teachers at school. I have concentrated on the child’s relationships with others and the effect they have on him. They were a perfect family. Dave and his brothers had a loving mother and a loving father whom they enjoyed holidays and regular outings with.
This perfect happy family changed, for no apparent reason, Dave was singled out from his siblings and was punished for being a “bad boy”. Whenever any of the children did anything wrong, Dave received the punishment. Punishment became physical abuse, which began relatively mild becoming so severe that he could have died. “Her voice changed from the nurturing mother to the wicked witch”. Dave’s mother began watching television all of the time and drinking beer, she became easily irritated and shouted for the slightest reason. She would punish David for no reason; her demands and actions on him had no purpose.
However, she never abused him directly inform of his siblings, so David used this to his advantage by devising ways of keeping her occupied until someone came home. Teachers at school began to notice when he was twelve years old, the nurse kept records on his appearance. Eventually, the school gathered enough evidence and risked themselves by phoning the police in order to rescue David. Throughout his life, David has a great will to survive and determination no to give in to his mother and let her win. He feels immense relief when she gives in and he is free from her beatings.
Although the beatings seem endless, and get worse each time, he still has hope that somehow he will escape. His hopes are shown in his imagination and dreams, also promises made to him by his father. David lives each day at a time, with a hope that he will be given the luxury of food as a reward for completing his chores within his time limit. David leads his mother to believe that her threats are working “I act timid, nodding to her threats” but inside his is strong and her words have little effect on him, “I breathe a sigh of relief.
The act worked. David uses his head to help him avoid his mother, and to mentally block out his pain that she inflicts on him. In his thoughts he is determined not to let her take away his courage to survive. His childlike imagination allows him to escape his slave-like existence and doesn’t let his affect his schoolwork. Only at the end of his struggle, when he is nearly beaten to death, odes he let it affect his work. “Usually I am a very good student, but for the past few months, I have up on everything in my life, including escaping my misery through my schoolwork. ”
David uses time as a tactic to beat his mother, this allows him to feel as if he is winning and beating his mother in the battle of survival. By distracting her and keeping her attention off the clock allows her to loose track of time. David hopes that someone will come home in order to free him and bring his mother closer to being caught. “I realised the clock was behind me. Without the clock, I felt helpless. ” This enables him to lock his concentration. David also feels very isolated and alone; he gives up on relying on others because they only let him down.
He believes that only he can eventually help himself out of his problem. “I knew no one could help me. Not my teachers, my so-called brothers or even father. I was on my own. ” Even when he has no help he doesn’t five in, he continues to put up with it. ” I wanted to show the bitch that she could only beat me if I dies, and I was determined not to give in, even to death. ” An incident occurs when David believes that he is finally free from his mothers punishments.
In the kitchen while she is carrying a knife, David’s baby brother pulls on her leg; she is drunk and unable to regain her balance. A sharp pain erupted from just above my stomach. I tried to remain standing, but my legs gave out, and my world turned black. ” David’s mother had stabbed him. ” I felt a curious sense of relief. I knew in my heart it was over. This whole charade of living like a slave had come to an end. Even mother could not like about his one. I felt the accident had set me free. ” However, he was left to suffer and life continued as normal, she did not even get him a check-up by a doctor or the hospital.
It is incredible that David is able to see that this horrific accident has set him free; although he is wounded he is still optimistic about the future that he has been “set free”. David believes that he is a “bad boy” because he is forced to stand inform on the mirror and repeat it to his reflection. He cannot understand why he is treated this way, but accepts it. David wished that people would realise that he is not a bad boy, and it’s not his fault that he has to steal their lunchboxes. “It’s so important for them to know that I’m not a bad boy.
I want so much to be liked, to be loved. ” The children at school are very cold towards him, and his brothers are instructed not to play with him. He has no real relationships or friendships with others. When he goes to visit the nurse, she hugs him, shows concern and gives him affection. This is a complete contrast to what anyone has shown him before, someone cares about him. “She is so warm, I don’t want to let go. I want to stay in her arms forever,” Another character whom David feels protection from is his father. As long as his father is at home, his punishments become much milder.
He had an image created in his mind that his father was a hero; he was superman in his dreams. David’s father builds up his hopes by telling David “some day you and I will get out of this madhouse. ” He told Dave he was making pans for the two of them to leave, however he told David he was sorry and then left on his own. David was left now feeling even more isolated than ever before – he cried. His father left because he split up with Dave’s mother, his efforts to help Dave caused arguments between them and David was blamed, the punishments became worse.
David then realised that he could not reply on anyone, his dreams change to himself becoming superman, all respect for his father had gone. As his life became worse, he no longer had these dreams of flying away; his aim was now to live for one day at a time. Food was used by his mother as a treat or reward for completing his chores within the time limit. David’s desperation for food is reflected in his dreams, “food was a little more than a fantasy. ” His only way of obtaining food was to steal from his classmates’ lunchboxes; he had no option but to conform to his “bad boy” expectation.
In the darkness of the garage I closed my eyes, dreaming I was a king dressed in the finest robes, eating the best food mankind had to offer. ” However in his dreams, David was unable to satisfy his hunger and woke up with a stomach moaning for food. David’s mother also greatly humiliates him and destroys his self-confidence. Dave develops self-hatred and this is reflected on his feelings for everyone around him. David feels like a reject – he is a reject, he is forced to wear scruffy clothes, has missing teeth, bloody nose, covered in bruises and permanently sleepy, “I was a walking disgrace. He had to sleep on the kitchen floor then was sent to sleep in an old army cot in the basement. He experienced feelings of fear and intense anger, feeling like a robot rarely revealing his emotions.
The writer refers to himself as an animal to express how worthless he felt ” I felt so degraded; I cried like a baby. I had no self-respect of any kind…. I felt lower than a dog. ” This simile is extended and referred to again when he explains how his mother treats him, ” I had seen her treat animals with more compassion than she did me. His mother even whipped him with a dogs chain to inflict pain on him, David had to brainwash himself in order to block out the pain. Dave’s confidence is destroyed because he is forced to say to himself in the mirror, repetedly “I am a bad boy. ” He has no confidence, which he blames on his mother “I am afraid to look into his eyes, which is mostly a habit from trying to deal with my mother. ” Knowing that he would never be able to play in its warmth, led Dave to despise the sun. He cringed with hate at the sound of his brothers and kids laughing and playing in the sum.
The smell of food caused his stomach to coil knowing that it wasn’t his. Picking up after slobs, made him feel like the family slave. Dave hated his mother so much that he wished her dead; he wanted her to feel his pain and loneliness. Dave prayed that she would become sick, and even calculated by her age when she would die. David also hated his father, because he was fully aware of the hell Dave went through, but lacked the courage to rescue his son as he had promised. The boys, who were no longer his brothers “playfully hit” him.
He despised his neighbours and relatives for knowing him and the conditions that he lived under. More than anything or anyone, he hater himself – because he believed that it was his fault. “You are a nobody! An it! You are non-existent! You are a bastard child! I hate you and I wish you were Dead! Do you hear me? Dead! ” These words no longer came from the booze but from his mothers’ heart. To protect her, Dave’s mother teaches Dave to say “accident” whenever anyone is suspicious or asks him why he is bruised. Accident” was his routine excuse when the school nurse began to do regular check-ups on David. “Tell ’em… tell ’em you ran in to the door. ” The checks lead to social security visits to their house. Mother was able to clear their suspicions because she played the role of caring mother in front of the neighbours. She told the school principle “David is a very bad boy and deserves to be punished” and told them the reason was that he seeks attention because of the new baby in the family.
Reading this novel of an account of one child’s struggle to survive childhood because of his mothers’ beatings made me aware of how tragic childhood can be, it is not a happy experience for all children. This made me appreciate my life, because I have many happy memories of my childhood and was brought up by caring parents who are still happily married. The issues explored captivated thoughts in my mind on child abuse, I firmly believe that in no circumstance is violence towards a child necessary.
I admire David’s power not to give in to her cruel games, although he is physically beaten, mentally he remains strong. Dave Pelzer has told an incredible survival story of himself as a young boy. My emotional evolvement made me cry at the bad times and smile through the good times. The novel also enforces the fact that we would rather turn away than get involved to help. Life is not always great, but even Dave was able to do something about it in his situation. David believed that there was “a light at the end of a very dark tunnel” and life goes on.