What's a summary of chapter 16 of Smack?

Chapter 16 of Smack involves Tar's observations of the beauty of a winter's day in Bristol and his memories of the summer playing with the others. Tar mentions how he got scared out of stealing after a close encounter with the police and how he is concerned about Lily and Gemma's more frequent use of heroin.

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The sixteenth chapter of Smack begins with Tar describing the winter weather of Bristol. He says that it is a beautiful day, despite the season and the cold. The ice crystals remind him of a magical land. He stands outside for hours observing what looks like flowers of ice. Tar then spends the day sliding on the ice with Rob, Sal, Col, Gemma, and Lily. It's all fun and games until Lily starts an argument with a passerby who admonishes them to stop playing in the road.

Tar reflects on how he and his friends don't shoplift and steal as much as they used to. They have enough money now to feed themselves, and all the stealing was wearing him down emotionally. Rob, on the other hand, is a pro who has been stealing nearly his whole life.

The winter weather has Tar reminiscing about summer. He thinks back to nighttime bonfires and the rope swing they built in a sycamore tree. Tar also relates how happy he is that Gemma accepted him back. Although his old feelings of love are still there for Gemma, Tar now recognizes that something is different this time. The dependence that he felt for Gemma is gone, replaced by a feeling of safety and comfort, but not need. Tar believes that this is a result of the self-confidence that he has built.

Now that they are not stealing so much, Tar feels better. He recounts a close call when he, along with Rob and Col, broke into a store and stole as much liquor and beer as they could grab. An alarm brought the police, and the boys had to make a clumsy escape.

Running and hiding from the police really put some fear into Tar. He decides that stealing is too risky. If he got caught, it would be really devastating, not just for him but for Lily as well. Tar is concerned about Lily. She appears to be deteriorating. She seems to think that she has special powers and is obsessed with heroin almost as much as anyone else—that is, except for Gemma. Although Tar is using less heroin now than before, Gemma still never misses an opportunity to get high.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 28, 2020
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