Task 1: Is it possible to feel sorry for the bully? How do your feelings about him change as you read the story?
The book “Welcome To The Real World” starts off by giving the impression that Andrew Greenwood is a bully just for the sheer pleasure and power of it. However, near the end of the book it goes on to explain the cause of Andrews behaviour.
At the start of “Welcome to the Real World” Andrew Greenwood picks on Rosa and threatens that he will show the whole school a photograph of her stealing a photograph of Jason, because she fancies Jason. Rosa is a girl who people perceive to be what they would call a ‘geek’. In reality Rosa is just trying to live up to her mother and her grandmothers standards, as they have made it a tradition is their family for the women to succeed. Rosa’s parents think Rosa only concentrates on school, and would never think about having a boyfriend. This is the image the whole school has of her so she feels it would be a disaster if Andrew were to tell the school that she fancies Jason. She says,
“I couldn’t face them if they found out.” (page 26)
This gives Andrew the power to bribe her and gives him the satisfaction of having someone he can make do whatever he likes, and make him feel like strong and powerful.
However, Rosa is determined to find some way of stopping Andrew bullying her. One day after school she sees him bullying someone else. This is when Meena first comes in to the story. Meena knows other people who are also getting bullied. Rosa and Menna arrange to meet and they form a group which they call The Secrets Club. In this group they decide they have all had enough of Andrew bullying them into bringing money, cinema passes, alcohol, cigarettes etc to school and having to give them to him. In order to stop him from doing this the first step is they have to tell each other what it is that Andrew is holding against them.
Meena cheated in an important test and got caught. Her parents would be so disappointed and ashamed if everyone knew that Meena had cheated. Andrew knows about her cheating in the test and threatens her that if she doesn’t steal alcohol and cigarettes from her dads’ shop he will tell the whole school about the cheating. So, as with Rosa this is giving him power over Meena.
“I could see they were ashamed of me. They-we-are Hindus and honesty is very important to us. I can’t let Andrew tell the whole school now. My family…it would…And that word cheat. It would stick with me for ever.”
Christine is another of Andrews victims who joins The Secrets Club. She is a quiet girl who is too shy and timid to stick up to her parents and let people know that Josh is her baby and not just her little baby brother. The secret Andrew knows about her is that the baby boy, called ‘Josh’, that her parents say is Christine’s little brother, is actually Christine’s baby. She is a teenage mother. Christine’s dad is the manager of the multi-screen cinema. Andrew makes Christine give him cinema tickets in exchange for keeping quiet about her having a baby. This is all giving him a feeling of power and control over other people and makes him feel good about himself.
An other victim of his is a new boy in school called Jason. He has a diary in which he writes about how he feels unloved by his parents. They give him money and expensive things, but he feels as though they don’t love him. Andrew finds this diary, and he uses this to manipulate Jason into getting tickets for the city football club, which is where Jason’s dad works.
The last member of The Secrets Club is Liam. Liam is part of a big family. He is a very small and quiet boy. His mum is dead and his dad doesn’t work and he is the youngest of his large family. I can imagine things must be hard for him. Andrew finds out that Liam’s dad has stolen portable CD Players which he is selling. Andrew makes Liam do jobs for him, and says that if he doesn’t do these jobs he will tell the police about his dad’s stealing. Liam doesn’t want to lose his dad as he has already lost his mum, so he will do anything Andrew tells him to protect his Dad.
Andrew has people doing things for him, and he is receiving things for free. He feels as though he is in control. Near the end of the book it becomes apparent why Andrew behaves in this way. People who are bullies usually have a reason for their behaviour. For instance they may have been bullied themselves once or been brought up with beatings and hard discipline. Andrews reason for bullying is that all throughout his years at school, teachers and pupils have picked on him. They have picked on him for a number of reasons, such as he is quite a fat boy and the teachers and pupils at school named him ‘D-cup.’ All this persecution and bullying that he has received when at school has built up over the years and Andrew has had enough of it. Being quite a fat and well built boy in fact gives him an advantage as a bully. Putting himself in a position of power over others is his way of dealing with his feelings of insecurity and low self esteem.
Towards the end of the book I began to realise that Andrew too has been a victim and this was why he is behaveing in the way he does. I felt sorry for him but still felt angry about the way he treated other people. I realise that Andrew was really a very sad, lonely boy. He was behaving the way he did as he could find no other way of dealing with being a victim himself.
In conclusion, at the start of the book I thought Andrew was a cruel and unpleasant boy however by the end I realised that he was a victim also and therefore I felt sorry for him and realised that he wasn’t simply bad but dealing badly with his own situation. I didn’t like him but I began to understand why he behaved in the way he did and feel more sympathetic towards him.