The Machine Gunners by Robert Westall

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How does Robert Westall use effective characterization to explore the effects of war on the civilian population?

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“Effective characterization” means that the author has created characters who seem like real people rather than stereotypes. Each individual has enough specific features to make them memorable, but their actions are plausible rather than far-fetched. When multiple characters are placed in an extreme situation, such as war, their behavior may change radically, or they may readily adapt to the difficulties they face. The characters’ traits matter in the plot because specific aspects influence the behavior of others, thereby shaping the outcome.

In The Machine Gunners, Chas is the protagonist who links two different sets of characters, his family and his friends. Robert Westall makes Chas credible because the boy displays typical adolescent behaviors, such as dissatisfaction with his parents, but he also engages in distinctive actions to try to cope with the war. In that regard, his relationships with...

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