Because The Bone People is narrated through the consciousnesses of the three major characters, the reader comes to be far clearer about their motivations than he may be about the events which they recall in fragmentary fashion. The central character, Kerewin Holmes, perceives herself as someone who knows what she wants: solitude, independence, and celibacy. Her Tower is a fortress. The things she possesses are important; people are not. It is significant that she could cut off relations with her family but had to bear away an ancestral coffee mill, to which she now talks. Her first response to Simon is distaste; her first impulse, to send him back into the rain from which he came. Clearly, however, she does not know herself as well as she thought. When she discovers that he has a splinter in his foot, she must help him, and from that time onward, first Simon’s helplessness and insistent love and then Joe’s hurt make it impossible for her to be the person she had thought herself to be.
Simon’s own fearful nature and delinquent reactions are related not only to his terrifying, drugged infancy but also to Joe’s present alternation of affection and abuse, which have convinced Simon that he himself is evil. When he attacks Joe during the final beating, which almost costs Simon his life, the boy is asserting his own refusal to accept the responsibility for Joe’s actions and thus stating a new independence.
The most complex...
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