In a novel which deals with heroin addiction, homelessness, teenage pregnancies, drug dealing, prostitution and domestic violence, we expect to find sympathy for characters. Due to certain events in the novel, our views are often changed.
At the beginning of the book we meet Tar and sympathise with him because of his general politeness, openness and sensitivity. The main factor however is his situation at home. His dad is an alcoholic and often beats him up. “His upper lip swelled over his teeth like a fat plum”, even his friends are pretty shocked “Christ! He really laid into you this time didn’t he?” This is a very strong image and we realise that it is a frequent occurring and it draws our sympathy to tar.
Tar’s girlfriend is called Gemma and they both live in Minely, a small seaside town. Gemma is the more dominant in their relationship and she does not love him like he loves her. Gemma however wants to fall in love with him “try as hard as I could to fall in love with him the way he loved me and she feels bad about the way that she doesn’t love him “this great lump used to come up into my throat”. This defiantly makes me sympathise with Gemma because she is obviously kind and caring but Tar has simply not pulled the right strings for her.
Tar gets on the bus to Bristol soon, leaving his troubles from his parents behind. He is lucky there and is taken in to a squat by some kind people. “It was the best luck I ever had in my life”. He is ecstatic and even more so when Gemma comes. Gemma has strict parents who are basically grounding her, due to her behaviour. “Friday and Saturday nights out, back by nine o’clock” her parents say. Gemma is obviously very frustrated and wants freedom and an adventure which is why she leaves. Her reasons don’t seem to be that valid and I can criticise her for leaving a stable environment where she is being supported.