Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Bone People - Keri Hulme

The Bone People, published in 1984, is an unusual story of love. The differences are in the way of telling, the subject matter, and the form of love that the story writes on. This is in no way a romance; it is rather filled with violence, fear, and twisted emotions. At the story's core, however, are three people who struggle very hard to figure out what love is and how to find it. The book is divided into two major sections, the first involving the characters interacting together, and the second half involving their individual travels.

In the first half, 8-year-old Simon shows up at the hermit Kerewin’s tower on a gloomy and stormy night. Simon is mute and thus is unable to explain his motives. When Simon’s adoptive father Joe arrives to pick him up in the morning, Kerewin get to know their curious story. Simon was found washed up on the beach years earlier with no memory and very few clues as to his identity. Joe and his wife Hana take in Simon, despite his mysterious background, and attempt to raise him. However, subsequently both Hana and their infant son die of flu, forcing Joe to bring the wild boy Simon up on his own.

At the same time Kerewin finds herself developing a relationship with the two the boy and the father, becoming more connected to their live circumstances and stories. Gradually it becomes clear that Simon is a severely traumatised orphan, whose strange behaviours Joe is unable to cope with. Kerewin eventually figures out that, in spite of a constant and intense love between them, Joe is physically abusing Simon.

Following a catalyst event, the three are driven violently apart. Simon witnesses a violent death and seeks Kerewin out, but she is angry with him for stealing some of her possessions and will not listen. Simon reacts by kicking in the side of her guitar, a much prized gift from her estranged family, whereupon she yells at him to disappear. After that he goes to the town and breaks a series of shop windows, and when he is returned home by the police, Joe beats him half to death. However, Simon has concealed a piece of glass and stabs his father with it. This results in hospitalisation for both.

In the second half of the novel, Joe is being sent to prison for child abuse, Simon is still in the hospital, and Kerewin is seriously and inexplicably ill. Consequently Simon's wardship is being taken from Joe. Simon is sent to a children's home, and Kerewin deconstructs her tower and leaves with the expectation to be dead within the year. All three have to overcome life-changing happenings, strongly interlaced with Maori mythology and legend.

Kerewin adopts Simon, to keep him close to her and Joe, who is out of prison again. Meanwhile Joe is able to contact Kerewin's family and bring them back for reconciliation. The final scene of the novel depicts the reunion of the three main characters Kerewin, Simon and Joe, who are all celebrating some unnamed occasion back at the beach where Kerewin has rebuilt her home, this time in the shape of a shell with many twists. This house makes Joe laugh as he finds all their family in various states of rest in the shell as he makes his way to the beach. It is not certain that Joe, Kerewin, and Simon will remain together, but they are together on the beach at the end of the book.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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