What is the significance of Fawkes's role as a "character" in "The Machine Gunners"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Guy Fawkes was a conspirator executed for treason against England in the early 1600s, and since that time it has become traditional for Britons to celebrate the anniversary of the day his plot was foiled with fireworks and burning effigies of Fawkes on bonfires.  When Chas finds the machine gun and asks his friend Cem to help move it with his bogie, or cart, Cem replies that his "Guy" is in the bogie, and Chas tells him to bring along the cart and the effigy too.

It is not an accident that the "character" of Guy Fawkes is presented in the narrative in this way.  The appearance of the celebrated traitor foreshadows the fact that the children will soon become traitors of sorts themselves, when they build their machine-gun fortress and shelter the German soldier Rudi.  Fawkes is representative of a central theme in the story, as the chldren learn that the line between friends and enemies is not as clear as they have been taught to believe, and the very nature of treason comes into question.