What is the importance of the character named Rudy in Ben's life in Deadline by Chris Crutcher?  How does Rudy affect Ben?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In short, Rudy is one of “the unsavable” who Ben is “hardwired” to try and save in Deadline.  There is little hope for Rudy.  Molested as a child, Rudy grows up to be a child molester (of young boys).  Even worse, one of Rudy's victims kills himself.  Rudy tries to drown his tragedy in both drugs and alcohol.  This is where Ben appears.  Ben decides he is going to help the “town drunk” (Rudy) to “get healthy” before knowing the exact situation.  Healthy food and drink do not even scratch the surface of what Rudy really needs:  forgiveness and redemption.  Ironically, Rudy helps Ben by teaching Ben all about Malcolm X.  Ben comes into the picture only when Rudy is beyond saving because Rudy believes that even the forgiveness within the Roman Catholic Church is not enough to redeem him.  Through the character of Rudy, Ben learns about the complexities of life. 

[Rudy was] about the lowest thing this society has to offer, but [to Ben he] didn't seem like that kind of low guy … he just seemed sad.

sdzachary | Student

Rudy McCoy is Trout, Idaho's "town drunk" and initially only someone Ben sees around from time to time. As a part of his quest to leave the world a better place, he decides to help Rudy "get healthy" by providing vitamins and healthy food, and as a part of his quest to learn as much as he can before his death, he enlists Rudy's help in learning about Malcolm X. 

Rudy is also important because as they get to know each other and become friends, Ben feels like the time he spends with Rudy is a refuge from his fears about dying and what that information will do to his family and friends. Additionally, Ben believes because he knows Rudy's secret about being a child molester, by letting himself be the object of Rudy's attention, he is potentially saving another child and Rudy as well, which he knows he will be unable to do for Dallas, his brother, his parents, or Coach, when he has to eventually tell them about his illness.

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