- Rumble Fish (novel)
Infobox Book |
name = Rumble Fish
S. E. Hinton
language = English
Young adult novel
pub_date = 1975
media_type = Print (Hardback &
pages = 135 pp
isbn = ISBN 0440059194
"Rumble Fish" is a 1975 novel by
S. E. Hinton. It centers on the relationship between Rusty-James and his older brother, the Motorcycle Boy, a revered former gang leader. Rusty-James who can neither live up to his brother's great reputation nor live it down. It is in the genre of young-adult fiction. An adaptation of the novel by Francis Ford Coppola, " Rumble Fish", was released in 1983. [http://www.bookrags.com/Rumble_Fish] The title is a reference to Siamese fighting fish, who would kill each other if not kept separate.
Rusty-James is a tough teen who wants to be an even tougher teen like his older brother, the Motorcycle Boy. He isn't book smart. Whenever he gets into trouble his older brother bails him out. One day his world comes apart in an explosive chain of events.
*Rusty-James - Protagonist
*The Motorcycle Boy - Older brother
*Steve Hays - best friend
*Cassandra - girlfriend of Motorcycle Boy, teacher
*Patty - girlfriend
*Biff Wilcox - Nemesis
*Smokey - friend
*Midget - friend
*B.J. Jackson - friend
*Patterson - police officer
*Mr. Harigan - guidance counselor
*Coach Ryan - teacher
Because The Motorcycle Boy's reputation is so great, he once comments that it is, "A bit of a burden to be Robin Hood, Jesse James, and the Pied Piper." The Motorcycle Boy is well respected and "pretty famous in their part of the city." Rusty-James idolizes his brother, and wants to be like him, when Rusty-James gets older.
While Rusty-James is a tough teen, he has a habit of getting attached to people. He is also afraid to be alone. It is later revealed that he was a toddler, his mother took The Motorcycle Boy (who was six at the time) and left. Their father went on a three-day drunk, leaving Rusty-James alone, in what apparently was a big house. This was when Rusty-James developed his fear. He seems to often worry that The Motorcycle Boy will leave him. He believes he loves The Motorcycle Boy, Patty, Steve (sort of), and his father (sort of). He is aware of the fact he cannot rely on any of them. In the end of them book, his father is proved worthless, The Motorcycle Boy is killed by a police officer, and Patty and Steve leave him. In the end, he is left alone and alienated.
The entire relationship between society and The Motorcycle Boy is one of alienation. He seems separated and distanced from them. According to him, this leads them to revere him, because, "Even the most primitive societies have innate respect for the insane," as he phrases it. Interestingly enough, the barriers between the surrounding world and The Motorcycle Boy are largely self-imposed by 19-year old. Even the barriers of deafness and color-blindness are self-imposed, he was not born with those disabilities and acquired them in motorcycle accidents, possibly on purpose.
While The Motorcycle Boy ended gang fights, some time before the story takes place, Rusty-James seems to be obsessed with the idea of it. According to the book, he was in the Little Leaguers, the Peewee branch of the local gang, the Packers, when he was eleven. However, gang fights ended, and according to Rusty-James, "dope ruined the gangs." Rusty-James tends to get upset when people disregard "The Rules," a systematic moral check point for teen fights, such as telling your opponent if there is going to be knives involved beforehand, or that fights have to start out with insults.
The protagonist's father was once a lawyer. However, he became an alcoholic after his wife left him. The Motorcycle Boy, "hates junkies," and we are never told why. Rusty-James, also, is opposed to drug use, because again, "dope ruined the gangs." Weston McCauley, the closest thing The Motorcycle Boy had to a friend and former second in command of the Packers (the local gang), is a heroin addict. Cassandra, originally a student teacher, who "thought she was The Motorcycle Boy's girlfriend," also does heroin, although she claims she is not addicted. Both Rusty-James and The Motorcycle Boy were stopped asking for identification for buying liquor when they were fourteen. Steve was originally opposed to alcohol, but does eventually get drunk, after his mother had a stroke.
ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 1975
School Library Journal Best Books of the Year, 1975
*Land of the Enchantment Award,
New Mexico Library Association, 1982
* [http://www.amazon.com/Rumble-Fish-S-E-Hinton/dp/0440975344 amazon.com]
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