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Stone Cold Literary Analysis

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Link and Shelter are the two main characters in Swindells novel, “Stone Cold”. They represent two extremes and their characterisation is shaped by Swindells use of language, imagery and by the atmosphere of the novel. The plot of “Stone Cold” involves the gradual integration of these two extremes that eventually collide in a dramatic ending. Swindells starts the novel using a direct and formal introduction to his character, “You can call me Link. ” By characterisation and tone Swindells then expands and gradually supplies the reader with more information, “It’s not my name, but its what I say when anybody asks.

Which isn’t often. ” The tone is sarcastic and the character appears fed up with the route his life has taken, and as we read on reasons appear for this attitude. Link is our first character. He is a teenage boy, full of promise and potential until he finds himself homeless. In this novel he acts as our link to understanding the theme of homelessness, he is the link to finding the missing youths and in a more profound thought, he is the ‘missing link’. He is a character, which searches and searches for something, which in the end he never finds.

Link is our direct connection to the streets of London through his diary entries and use of adjectives. This style allows the reader not only to emphasise with Link but also actually see themselves in London’s streets, feeling the excitement and fear first hand through their “Link”. Swindells then introduces us to “Shelter”. Again it is direct and within the first paragraph, the use of his name develops a certain irony, “Shelter, yes I like it. It’s got a ring to it, I’m sure you’ll agree. ” He promises to offer the street people “shelter”, “Shelter, as in from the stormy blast”, but in fact entices them to their death.

As well as the tone giving us a feel of the characters and the way they act and speak so does the type face. Swindells uses a soft font of Times New Roman for “Link”. It’s a familiar font, easy on the eye and gives an all round ‘normal’ feel, as it is the font that most publishers use for their text. On the other hand Swindells uses a bolder upright font for “Shelter”. This suits his military no nonsense character and this reflects in the title chapters as they are recorded as “Daily Routine Orders”. Swindells allows us to learn a lot about his characters in a small amount of time.

This makes easy reading, as the characterisation allows more and more to unfold as time goes on. “Link” is a first person narrative. Very quickly we become aware of his bitter and sardonic tone, “My fascinating life”. This again indicates the irony of his own personal situation and links him with “Shelter” as they are both using black humour to get themselves through their situations. The opening page “You can call me Link” is slightly mysterious. We do not know “Link’s” real name, and nor shall we ever. This is designed to draw us into his world.

He informs us that he is “invisible”. Ironically, although we learn everyone ignores him, we still find ourselves becoming more interested to find out why. “Link” doesn’t leave us short of information. His first real chapter, a diary entry style is informative, yet keeps the sarcastic, scornful tone throughout. “Shelter” can use the same irony and tone, so to avoid the novel becoming repetitive and monotonous Swindells jumps from “Shelter” to “Link”, alternating chapters between the two. “Shelter” is again a first person narrative.

His extracts are told with military precision, the majority of the time apart from odd digressions of madness, and with references to military language, such as, “Get fell in, my luck lads”. However we learn far less about Shelter. He does not give us his history and doesn’t waste time delving into his emotions. The only fact we really learn about “Shelter”, except his hatred for homeless people is that he was discharged from the army on medical grounds, yet he doesn’t give us reasons why. “Discharged on medical grounds. And there’s nothing wrong with me”.

In fact he seems to be in denial and we question whether he has a mental rather than physical illness. Swindells paints a socio-political background on which he sets his novel. The main theme of homelessness is topical for young people and society today. In chapter two Swindells tells us of the problems homeless people have to face. He gives this as a personal account on Link’s behalf. He addresses the problems within family households, how this can affect young people and make them resort to voluntarily making themselves homeless.

Link tells us of his mother’s crude and unpleasant boyfriend, “but he went on and on, getting nastier and nastier”, and then eventually, he tells us how he became homeless, “He locked me out the house. It wasn’t even his house. ” We can tell that Link is bitter towards Vince but we can also tell from his tone that he doesn’t regret leaving. Even though Link doesn’t regret leaving, in chapter three we can sense a feeling of vulnerability, “You’re going to find yourself living among hard, violent people, some of whom are deranged.

None it appears more deranged than Shelter who picks up on this vulnerability and he uses it to his advantage. Shelter refers to his victims as “recruits”, he had served in the army and this reflects in the way he talks about the homeless people, “My mission in life – to turn dirty, scruffy, pimply youths into soldiers”. Picking up on their vulnerability Shelter tells them that he, “runs a hostel on Plender Street”. Although a few seem suspicious of this, as they’ve never heard of such a place, they soon cave and follow Shelter unsuspectingly.

Swindells uses other techniques within his novel to develop his characters. He changes his vocabulary and tone depending on his character, and relies heavily on imagery and metaphorical phrases. When looking at the contrasts within vocabulary we realise Swindells has used Shelters army background to his advantage. He uses military analogies to record each chapter and uses army vocabulary such as “it’s begun, the recruiting. ”

Link on the other hand uses colloquial language, using slang and language that is relative to the homeless way of life such as, “roughing it. He also uses minor swearing. Swindells uses this vocabulary to bring Link across as a natural teenager. To add to the distinction between this vocabulary Swindells uses a difference in tone. Shelter on one hand is sinister, unnerving and matter of fact. His arrogance and boasting of the killings make him proud of what he is doing. “It was as easy as falling off a log” he states after he has murdered his first victim. He is deeply disturbing and whilst taking on this false persona, “Shelter, yes I like it,” we still can feel his arrogant army personality seeping through his new exterior.

Shelter’s accounts seem almost emotionless, whereas on the other hand Link shows us an array of emotions in his slightly embittered account. Link goes through an array of emotions in short measures of time. At first we hear him in his cynical yet depressed state, “I’m invisible see? ” He is feeling alienated because of his circumstances. This is put across to the reader almost straight away. In his opening paragraph he says, “Right now I’m sitting in a doorway watching the passers-by. They avoid looking at me”. This is his link with reality. Link then goes on to tell us of his embarrassment and anger.

Both of these are to do with his friends and family. He feels anger and hatred towards his mother’s boyfriend, yet feels embarrassed about his situation and that’s why he moves to London, “I kept seeing people I knew”, “You can’t possible know how low it makes you feel. ” Link continues to show us an array of emotions and by the end of the novel Swindells has managed to incorporate nervousness, the confusion of lust and even terror when Link realises who the man he is left alone with really is and what he’s capable of. Swindells novel heavily relies on imagery.

Shelter uses a military way of expressing himself, such as, “breaking it in like a new pair of boots”, “tour of inspection”, “it was about 20:00 hours”. When expressing his views on the homeless youths Swindells makes Shelter use derogatory imagery, metaphors and similes. Example of these are, “but I can clean up the garbage can’t I? ” this is a metaphor. Shelter isn’t really talking about garbage at all; he’s talking about homeless people. “He trotted at my heels like a ruddy poodle”, “followed me home like a three year old. ” These are both examples of similes. Shelter is comparing his victims to pathetic, helpless things, such as children.

Swindells does still keep the military connection though, “a gross error, like Hitler’s invasion of Russia. ” This is again a simile, but uses his military background to base it on. The use of military metaphors creates the image of a cold-blooded trained killer who would have us believe that he kills out of necessity. The similes create images of putting animals out of their misery. Such as act would be one of compassion but I think it is clear that Shelter acts purely out of selfishness. Swindells uses cynical metaphors for imagery for Link to create the idea that he is vulnerable and isolated from society.

He uses phrases like, “I’m invisible,” and “stuck out like a sore thumb” for emphasis of his point. However Link’s attitude slightly changes when he finds himself unexpectedly falling in love. He becomes less cynical and uses emotional descriptive language such as, “Her hair, Chestnut, spilling from under her green knitted cap like fire”. The emotive images of Link contrast with the emotionless images of Shelter. Link’s ability to love shows hope in contrast to Shelter” cold hearted attitude. However, ironically Link’s love of his life turns out to be false so I question how real this hope can be.

As well as relying on imagery to create and integrate his characters Swindells also relies on mood and atmosphere. This atmosphere becomes apparent from the title, “Stone Cold” as it gives us a sense for the mood and tone of the novel. It would be a completely unsuitable title for a romantic comedy, however as the themes are serious the title is very fitting. The mood is first set with Shelter’s initial caution and meticulous planning.

He doesn’t want to leave a pattern, however this cannot be helped as he only wants to murder homeless people, but he spends a great deal of time planning before he acts. So it’s a case of wait for it, you ‘orrible little man. ” Shelter then goes on to speak of his first outing. On this outing Shelter spends more time planning, getting familiar with his surroundings, finding where people stay and the like, “Tour of inspection”. He then goes on to his final stage of preparation. He wants to be friendly, yet not overly, so he adds a cat, a normal household animal into the equation, “Sappho is going to project a certain sort of image. Kindly and a bit academic. ” Swindells tells us small, yet important details so we can understand Shelters meticulous thinking.

He doesn’t want to become complacent, “But there is this unavoidable pattern, so I have to create as much variety as possible”, “but you mustn’t get complacent”. As Shelter’s plan falls swiftly into place. He allows it to do so with such precision that by Daily Routine Orders 15, he’s feeling a supernatural sense of confidence. He both begins and ends, by laughing at the police, “ha, ha, ha! ” showing that he thinks he is higher than law and order in society. Swindells uses this to create the mood Shelter is feeling; he is one up on the police and therefore is feeling very smug and happy for himself.

This is brought across in the mood and tone of the writing. Swindells however uses a different mood for Link to show contrast. Although Shelter is resentful towards the army for making him leave, this is almost nothing compared to the resentment Link feels towards Vince. Swindells portrays a sense of helplessness when writing as Link. We notice this almost from the beginning of the novel. In the second chapter Swindells gives us the character history. Link tells us of why he left home and the atmosphere within his house; “nobody stuck up for me not even my sister.

He concentrates his anger and frustration mainly towards Vince his mothers boyfriend, “he leers at Mum and comes out with this suggestive stuff”, “Vince stated on at me about living on his money”. This helplessness about his situation at home soon progresses to his fear of the streets. He is scared about being alone and being ‘picked on’. His helplessness comes through within his vocabulary, “hunger pangs and real cold”. The image of Links vulnerability being alone contrasts with Shelter’s military imagery. Normally the military would provide a brother-hood and protection.

However, Shelters ideas are quite deranged which may be why he was expelled from service. He is now as isolated as Link. Whilst Link sees himself as helpless, Shelter finds it motivating. This helplessness evolves when Link meets Ginger. Link feels a surge of relief, “I’d found a friend and wanted to hang on to him”. No longer was he alone on the streets, he now had someone to look to for support. However, Ginger soon vanishes, and Link once again feels helpless and alone. He spends his time searching for Ginger, hoping that he will reappear, but he doesn’t.

Swindells gives Link a certain air of panic, and this panic doesn’t leave him until he meets Gail. The Link’s mood lurches in the opposite direction. He finds himself falling in love, and changing his tone, leaving the cynical depressed talk behind, “We sat there talking. It was unbelievable”. Swindells then allows the tension and pace of the story to gather. As Link and Gail begin to twig about Shelter. The pace of the story takes off at a great speed. This pace alters within the novel. When speaking of Vince it picks up to let us feel Link’s hurt, anger and frustration.

However when Link meets Ginger he calms down. He becomes more comfortable as he now has a friend. Swindells brings up the pace once again when Link is frantically searching for Ginger, but he rounds it off and slows it back down with the introduction of Gail to the plot. Once again there is a sense of calm within the writing yet bursts of fury start to build up until we get Link’s confrontation with Shelter. These increases and decreases of speed add to the creation of tension. As Swindells talks of Links situation with being homeless, he builds up tension by speaking of the dangers of being homeless.

When Link first moves to London he is alone and scared of other homeless people, with good reason we are shown, “Nice watch. Gizzit! ” On the other hand Swindells doesn’t build up tension as much with Shelter. Shelter uses matter of fact and brief diary entries. He doesn’t go into great description of his murders and this therefore leaves more for the reader’s imagination to play on. Link and Ginger walk into Shelter when they are walking along and as they laugh Shelter believes they are laughing at him and he tells us, “Never forget a face,” hinting to us that Ginger and Link will soon be joining his ‘army’.

By interacting these characters Swindells is creating tension and pace adding to the drama of the attempted murder of Link. It starts with a slow pace, and Shelter’s fake concern. Swindells shows Shelter trying to persuade Link he’s a ‘nice’ person and soon enough Link falls for it and follows Shelter into his house, “It was as simple as that”. Link then starts to become suspicious again and Swindells increases tension with an increase of pace. Link tells us, “There was a tightening sensation in my chest”, “and when the door slammed I cried out”.

This shows tension both within the character and writing which then transfers into the reader. This increase of tension increases until, “He was bending over me, brandishing his garrotte, when the siren sounded. ” Swindells uses this to send almost a wave of relief over the reader. Swindells relaxes his writing style towards the end. The plot has been unravelled and now needs rounding off. However, after this initial reaction of relief the reader is dismayed to discover that there is no happy ending for Link who continues to be homeless and has now lost his hope of love.

By effectively creating a sense of tension and a varied pace Swindells managed to integrate and intertwine two main characters into one plot. He does this by using first person narrative and imagery to create an atmosphere so that by the end of the novel a surge of relief comes over the reader. At the end of the novel Swindells concludes with a rhetorical question, “It’s a free country right? ” because Link will never be free whilst he lives on the streets and he will never be free of his memories of Shelter.

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