What is an example of the tone in the book Rumble Fish?

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belarafon | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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S.E. Hinton's 1975 young-adult novel Rumble Fish was an influential novel of the time, showing the power and tragedy of abuse and drugs in the youth culture. Francis Ford Coppola adapted it to film in 1983.

The tone of the book is dry and bitter; the narrator, a juvenile delinquent named Rusty-James, sees things from only his own point of view, and suffers from lapses in memory:

"How long were you in for?" he asked. "I never found out. We moved, you know, right after..."

"Five years," I said. I can't remember much about it. Like I said, my memory's screwed up some. If somebody says something to remind me, I can remember things. But if I'm left alone I don't seem to be able to. Sometimes Alex'll say something that brings back the reformatory, but mostly he don't. He don't like remembering it either.
(Hinton, Rumble Fish, Google Books)

Rusty-James is not overly educated, using the incorrect form "don't" for "doesn't," and generally speaking in a stylized vernacular. His distrust of adults comes out in his narration, as does his general distaste for civilized life; he spends most of his time comparing himself to his brother, a mythical figure in the gangs called Motorcycle Boy, but has no ambitions beyond that. Rusty-James wastes no words on allegory or metaphor, instead describing what is in front of him simply and directly. His one-sided narration serves to show the biases and prejudices that he takes for granted, even where they are manifestly incorrect.

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