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About A Boy

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by

Mr Alston

on 6 November 2016

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Transcript of About A Boy

The Setting
A novel is a product of its time and place. The author may be commenting on society at the time of writing, or they may be analysing how society has got to its current point by exploring the past, or they may be looking at how society has changed. Think about society now. What do you think is wrong or right with it?
Characters
Themes
Themes are ideas or topics within a novel. They are different to the messages or moral of the novel, which usually are revealed at the end.
About A Boy: Revision
There are
five
areas to study:

Setting:
this concerns the time and the place the author has chosen for the story
The plot:
this is the series of events deliberately organised by the writer to test the characters
The characters:
the people who have to respond to the events of the story. Remember they may change throughout the course of the novel
The themes:
these are the underlying messages, or meanings, of the novel
Language and style:
this is the way the author has written the novel to influence how we understand the novel
How do you study a novel?
There are many cultural references from 1993 and 1994 within the novel-most of them Marcus doesn't understand. What was society like in 1993-1994?
Will
Nick Hornby
Born in 17 April 1957
Born in Redhill, brought up in Maidenhead.
Married twice. 3 children, one with autism.
First published book was Fever Pitch’ about Arsenal football team and published in 1992. This was made into a film
Hornby published articles and music reviews.
Second published book (in 1995) was 'High Fidelity' about a record collector. This was made into a major Hollywood film starring John Cusack
Wrote ‘Slam’ in 2007 for young adults
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/apr/20/nickhornby
Two reviews of About a Boy: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/1998/mar/29/fiction.nickhornby http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/06/28/reviews/980628.28espent.html
One of the main protagonists in the novel
Changes as the novel progresses
What is he like at the beginning?
Single
Jobless
Rich
A lack of meaningful relationships
Shallow
Immature
Manipulative
Anything else?
What is he like at the end?
Marcus
Marcus is the other main protagonist in the novel
He also changes as the novel progresses but maybe not to the same extent as Will
What was Marcus like at the start of the novel?
Lack of empathy
Bullied
Anxious about mother
An outsider
Treated like a child
No friends
Anything else?
How is he different at the end?
Fiona
Marcus's mother
Divorced from Marcus's father
She is suffering from depression
Her attempted suicide leads to Will becoming involved in her and Marcus's life
She always tells Marcus to be himself and not a 'sheep'
Forces her beliefs on her son
Ellie
Ellie first meets Marcus outside the headteacher's office
She is rebellious
Kurt Cobain is her idol
She is 15
She helps Marcus deal with the bullies at school
Her mother is also divorced
The main theme of 'About a Boy' is relationships. The message is that we need a lot of different relationships in our lives.
Depression is also a theme.
Another theme is growing up and maturing. Whether that's Will or Marcus is up to you
Finally, there is the theme of personal and social responsibility
Language and Style
Third person and omniscient point of view
Alternating narrators of Will and Marcus
Humorous
Irony used frequently
Stream of consciousness often used
Informal language
Free and indirect style
Frequent popular culture references
Music
Rap music: Snoop Doggy Dog
Grunge music: Nirvana
Britpop: Blur and Oasis
News Stories
The Conservatives were running the country, but by 1997 it was New Labour and Tony Blair
A major international story from 1994 was the Rwandan Genocide
You will be given a passage in the examination and asked to analyse it for character or author's style. But what is Hornby's style like in About a Boy?
The major domestic story from 1994 was the trial of James Bulger's killers, which took place in Preston
And the 'Chunnel' was opened by the Queen
Sport
Football: Manchester United were Premier League Champions and England were still overrated and rubbish: they failed to qualify for the USA 1994 World Cup, after losing to Holland, as well as Norway, in the group stages of qualification
Cricket: Australia always came out on top in the Ashes against England, mainly thanks to Shane Warne's bowling
And the Winter Olympics were held in Lillehammer
Hobbies and Pastimes
The rise of the console: teenagers were constantly falling out with parents over the length of time they spent on their Sega Mega Drive, Gameboy or Super Nintendo, playing one player games, such as Sonic the Hedgehog, Super Mario Bros and Tetris. Mario Kart was also popular.
Who's in charge?
The Conservative Party thinks that individuals should own and control businesses and services and make profits from them; the government should not interfere with these things. If this creates a gap between rich and poor, then it's not down to the government to sort it out. It's all about survival of the fittest.

Money for one or money for all?
Tax should be low, so that you can keep as much of what you earn as possible. As businesses and services are privately owned, it's thought that people will have more money to spend on these things, instead of the government taking your money and choosing for you. In turn this will improve public services, because in order to get you to use them, they need to be good.

The community
Traditional values should be encouraged to help build strong communities and families. Strict discipline and respect will cut crime and criminals should be treated harshly.

The future
Traditions such as the monarchy and the House of Lords are a very important part of Britain's history. They should be left as they are and there should be very little involvement or interference from the European Union. The UK must stand strong.
Who's in charge?
The government should work with private companies to provide good public services. The government should be involved in helping to close the gap between rich and poor by providing opportunities for those in need. All public services such as schools and hospitals need to receive funding from the government in order to provide good-quality services that are available for everyone to use.

Money for one or money for all?
There need to be different levels of tax depending on how much you earn. The more you earn, the more you should pay – otherwise you end up with a group of very, very rich people and a group of very, very poor people. The tax is used to provide services for everybody, rich and poor.

The community
Communities need to be strong by promoting tolerance of and respect for all and by all. Everyone should enjoy their individual rights but they must also understand that they have responsibilities to those around them.

The future
Britain has a very important part to play in Europe and should be taking a leading role.
Films
The top grossing movies from 1993 were Jurassic Park and Mrs Doubtfire. 1994 saw the release of Forrest Gump and The Lion King
Full transcript