What are some of Crispin's character traits at the beginning and at the end of Crispin: The Cross of Lead?
Crispin's character traits at the beginning of the book:
At the beginning of the book, Crispin is pessimistic, distrustful, and fearful. Throughout his short life, he has known very little kindness. When the story begins, we learn that Crispin's mother has just passed away. Shortly after, Crispin discovers that his life is in danger. The steward, John Aycliffe, has proclaimed Crispin a wolf's head, and the young boy can be hunted down and killed by anyone who chooses to do so. Crispin's crime? He is Sir Furnival's illegitimate son and may one day decide to make a claim on the Furnival estate. So, he must be stopped at all costs.
Overnight, Crispin has to come to terms with the fact that he is an orphan whose life means very little to those who hunt him. There seems to be no one he can turn to. Even his friend, Father Quinel, is murdered, and Crispin finds himself bereft, alone, and frightened. His fear leads him to be both distrustful and pessimistic in his outlook. It isn't until he meets Bear that he becomes a different person altogether.
Crispin's character traits at the end of the book:
By the end of the book, Crispin is more optimistic, courageous, and outgoing. As mentioned, this is due to Bear's influence on Crispin. The traveling performer is a larger-than-life figure to Crispin, and he is ambitious for change in his beloved England. Bear is adventurous, fearless, and gregarious, and he imbues Crispin with his own spirit as they travel together towards Great Wexly.
Bear's re-telling of his own difficult and lonely childhood disarms Crispin, and the young boy finds himself looking up to the older man. It is Bear who teaches Crispin new ideas about freedom, choice, identity, and fate. Bear's enthusiasm is infectious, and Crispin soon finds the courage to explore the city of Great Wexly by himself. There, he sees the poor and the rich mingle together without conflict. This is an entirely new world to Crispin.
His exposure to new ideas about God and salvation further adds to his confidence. From Bear, Crispin learns that he doesn't need churches or priests to stand between his communion with God. He is free to choose how he will worship and serve God. Last, but not least, Crispin learns that he can affect his own future by his own actions; he need not depend on an overlord or a steward to decide his future for him. To Crispin, Bear has given him a precious gift: the knowledge that all men are equal. With this knowledge, Crispin knows that he will no longer have to live in the shadows of his past bondage.
Armed with this new mindset, Crispin becomes more courageous, adventurous, and optimistic. He is able to set out to rescue Bear despite the dangers that await him. When he finally succeeds, we know that Crispin has become an altogether different boy than the one we met at the beginning of the story.
At the start of the book, Crispin is passive and uneducated peasant. He's oppressed and expects little out of life. He's sad when his mother dies, but to be honest, it fits with what he expects of the world, which is for little good to happen. He has also seen little of the world. As a result, he challenges little, either literally or conceptually.
By the end of the book, Crispin has changed markedly. He not only fights for what he thinks is right, he fights to save his friend Bear. He demonstrates a vivid and flexible mind, and he can conceive of alternatives to the current reality.