In "On the Sidewalk Bleeding," the conflict is developed through the use of names that apply to the boy: Andy and "a Royal." Skim the story to note how the names appear in critical places. As symbols, what do these names represent?

The story "On the Sidewalk Bleeding" reflects on the conflict between individual identity and group identity. The boy who has been stabbed and is dying finally realizes that he would rather be himself, simply Andy, than a Royal, a member of a gang. But he comes to this conclusion too late, for his group identity gets him killed.

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The boy lying on the sidewalk bleeding is a human being, a person, an individual named Andy who has his own unique identity. Yet long before the story starts, Andy has decided to subordinate his personal identity to the identity of a gang named the Royals. He has made his group identity take priority over his individual identity, for he seeks a sense of belonging.

Yet Andy has realized his mistake, but it is too late. He has been stabbed by members of a rival gang, the Guardians, not because he is Andy but because he is a Royal. They do not see the individual, the human being; all they see is the purple jacket with "The Royals" written across it. To them, the boy is merely an enemy to be disposed of. He is not a person.

Two people enter the alley and see the boy, but they will not help him. He is a Royal, and they are afraid of the Guardians. If they help a member of a rival gang, they will suffer the consequences. So they run away. They refuse to see the individual under the jacket. They don't want to know his name. To them, he is just a Royal.

Before Andy dies, he manages to take off his jacket. He had been so proud to be a Royal, but now he just wants to be Andy. He wants to be a person, not a gang member. He wants to be himself. When his girlfriend, Laura, finds Andy, he is already dead. She runs for a police officer, but when the officer arrives, all he sees is a Royal lying dead in the alley. Laura, however, sees Andy, and she tells the officer the boy's name. The officer merely replies, "A Royal," as he begins writing in his notebook.

This story is a warning. Sometimes we want to belong to a group so badly that we let the group take over. We make the group our identity rather than allowing ourselves to grow as unique individuals. Andy learned too late that he would rather be simply Andy than a Royal.

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