By The River Analysis

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by the river is a verse-novel by Steven Herrick. The text is a coming of age novel, in which Harry Hodby, the main protagonist, reflects on his life in a quiet Australian country-town, where he encounters many hardships, leading to him wanting to escape. The novel scrutinises the theme of growing from childhood to adolescence, whilst exploring the many challenges and vicissitudes that it 's growing characters face along the journey. During this journey, Harry and classmate, Johnny Barlow, encounter many challenges to do with learning that in a small country-town they must decide whether to accept or revolt against the judgment of others. Harry must also learn the challenging aspect of handling new lust related emotions, whilst both boys must…show more content…
This is illustrated by the character Harry Hodby, who lives in a town that judges one by their looks, house and family, but not for who they truly are. An example of this is the Hodby household, which on the outside is smeared with oil. Due to this, the town’s people like to tell everyone, “You’ll see it. Or smell it," not realising how clean and nice it and it’s inhabitants are on the inside. This causes sadness in Harry, leading him to get in a fight with Craig Randall over the snide comments made about the house, "even though I [Harry] agreed with every word." This exchange shows how Harry must face the challenge of whether to go along with what everyone else says, or defend his family 's honour. Another example of the challenges faced through growing up from childhood to adolescence is of Harry 's classmate Johnny Barlow. Johnny’s family consists of a drunk father and a brother who has ended in jail many times, leading to the people in the town thinking that Johnny himself is, “Good for nothing.” Due to all the gossiping, Johnny feels that he must leave the town temporarily for he feels alone and disconnected. However, the gossiping about the growing youth extends to such a state that Harry, after listening to all the ugly little voices of the town, decides that he, “wants to run away too, just like…show more content…
This can be seen through Harry Hodby and the many poems about Miss Spencer. Harry lusts after Miss Spencer, the school secretary, at age fourteen. This is Harry’s first crush and he cannot stop thinking about her. This proves that Harry is now at an age that he appreciates women. However, it is not real love as Harry mainly just focuses on her physical appearance and fantasises a lot, and thus is just lust. To emphasise further Harry’s challenge of containing the lust, he admits that, “Eve Spencer … [has] breasts that keep me awake long nights.” The challenge for Harry is containing this lust and distinguishing it from real love. However, as Miss Spencer does not acknowledge that there is any connection between them, Harry must gradually get over this infatuation. This is when the major challenge for Harry occurs. During the story, Harry and Keith regularly hide in a bush near the window of the Barlow family garage. This is where Wayne Barlow, Johnny’s older brother, brings his girlfriends. Most nights, Harry and his younger brother, Keith, watch the, “cool looks” of Wayne and, “the sound that naked bodies make.” It is one of these nights that Wayne brings Miss Spencer. After watching for some minutes Harry realises who it is, and screams, deciding to “pick up a rock [and] hurl it blind, turn and run
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