A character study of Shelter from Stone cold. Show how our view of the character changes throughout the novel. Shelter is one of the two first-person narrators in Robert Swindellâ€™s Stone cold. In the novel Swindellâ€™s follows the runaway teenager, Link, from his home in Bradford to the mean streets of London where his path crosses that of Shelter, an ex-soldier who creates his own army while also cleaning up the streets of the homeless people he despises. In this essay I will show how the character is portrayed and how our view of him changes throughout the novel.In daily routine orders 3 Swindellâ€™s choice of language makes Shelter sound very negative and hateful in the way he talks about homeless people. Swindells also uses army terms such as â€˜Tour of inspectionâ€™ and it tells us that Shelter must be an ex-soldier and must still believe he is one. This gives us the impression that thereâ€™s something not quite just right about Shelter. In daily routine orders 4 Shelter goes on to explain how the secret of victory in any campaign is planning and preparation. He describes his planning as being â€œMeticulous and my preparations are now completeâ€.One of the things he has acquired has helped him to complete and that is a cat. He talks of the cat as his distraction to who he really is. â€œA man who keeps a cat canâ€™t possible mean any harm, can he? â€ He also named the cat Sappho which will project an image of a kind man who cares. Thereâ€™s not yet any indication of violent intentions but there is a suspicion of something untoward. Daily routine orders 5 & 6 enters into Shelterâ€™s concept pf his â€˜missionâ€™ and we learn about his abnormal thought and views on murder.He believes that killing the homeless people on the streets is his job, his duty to his country. He creates a pleasant and warm atmosphere among the victims to make them feel safe and willing to do whatever he says for shelter and food and drink. â€œHe fell for it, hook, line and sinkerâ€. Shelter tricked someone therefore planning it and not feeling regret for it. He uses the words â€˜do-gooderâ€™ which simply means someone who does good things. He uses these words throughout the novel to mock people who actually are â€˜do-goodersâ€™. Further on in the novel Shelter describes the people he has killed as â€˜wasteâ€™.This tells us he couldnâ€™t care less about how those people who were humans just like him. He tempts them with food and warmth and when they have their backs turned he strikes. We start off thinking that there is something not quite right about Shelter and the further we get on through the novel the clearer it becomes that Shelter is completely insane. In daily routine orders 12 & 13 Shelter is much more open about his â€˜armyâ€™. â€œMy ladâ€™ll not be doing a lot of yomping, so it doesnâ€™t matter if the footwear is a bit slack or a bit snugâ€.Obviously heâ€™s describing a sort of â€˜Dead Armyâ€™ and he has been making them look the part; cutting their hair all the same length, giving them the same boots even if they arenâ€™t always the perfect fit since they are not going to be marching around anywhere because, as we know, they are all dead, murdered by Shelter to be precise. By this point in the novel we can tell he is absolutely insane. Shelterâ€™s claims to be clever are completely correct. The way he coaxes people into believing he is a genuinely kind, friendly, caring and approachable man, takes skill. He can put on such a good act.In daily routine orders 15 he plays the part of a man who is truly upset about his missing cat and asks Link if heâ€™s seen it. Also in daily routine orders 15 he fools the police into believing he had nothing to do with the disappearance of Tanya. In terms of cleverness Shelter is brilliant, completely undetectable. Link and Shelter finally meet but now we see Shelter through Links eyes. In this last chapter you start feeling sorry for Shelter. To get like he is he must of have a pretty rough life. Link goes on about how Gail will come to save him and Shelter says â€œSheâ€™ll let you down, they always doâ€.With that statement we are told that he must have had a girlfriend in the past that let him down which immediately makes you feel sorry for him. So yes, seeing Shelter through Links eyes does change our view of him. I still wouldnâ€™t trust him more than Link, based on what I already know. To conclude my essay on how Shelter changes throughout the novel. Iâ€™d say my view of shelter changed when we came to the end of the novel. To start with he was just plain strange. He gradually went from strange to right out insane. When we came to see Shelter through Links eyes I felt sorry for him and he needed a lot of psychological help.
Dashiell Hammett, father of the American hard-boiled genre, is widely known for producing a suffocating world of realism in his works (â€œHard-boiled fictionâ€). According to Paul Abrahamâ€™s â€œOn re-reading The Maltese Falcon,â€ the realistic atmosphere of Hammettâ€™s third novel is reactionary to the post-war turmoil in which the work was born (97). This provides the ideal foundation for subtle philosophical concepts of existentialism such as, quests for truth, self identification, and the significance of existence to build throughout the novel.
Richard Layman, in his critical review of Hammettâ€™s novel (also titled The Maltese Falcon), proposes that the philosophies of Hammettâ€™s generation can be found within the text of his novel (71). Hammett conveys an existential theme in his work The Maltese Falcon through his use of themes of inquiry and self absorbed characters as well as his Flitcraft parable. Existentialism, in a simple form, is a philosophy concerning existence and its significance.
Layman asserts that â€œ[existentialism] had its roots in the mid-nineteenth century and flourished in the United States from the 1930s until the 1960sâ€ (71). According to the web-article â€œWorld War Iâ€ from the New World Encyclopedia, subsequent to the Great War, â€œthe optimism for world peace of the 1900s was entirely gone. â€ Therefore, without the blinders of social optimism, American society could question ideas such as, the occurrence of mass destruction in a â€œjustâ€ world and the significance of existence in such a world.
Hammettâ€™s firsthand experience with the existential crisisâ€”caused by what the historical context from the website â€œThe Maltese Falconâ€ presents as global wars, the Great Depression, and other struggles of the 1930sâ€”leads Hammett to employ different techniques throughout his work, providing subtle allusions to existentialism. One method through which Hammett conveys existentialistic thought is through his themes of inquiry in The Maltese Falcon. The plot is centered on the continuous quest for an idolized iconâ€”the Maltese falcon, a precious bejeweled bird.
Hammett incorporates an ecclesiastical theme through this pursuit of an icon. The quest for their icon ultimately leads to the demise of the characters involved in its search. It steals the identity and climatically the life of the mob-boss Gutman. Brigid, the femme fatale, also loses in this pursuit, for she is left to the mercy of the law in the final pages. Whether death or imprisonment plagues the characters involved, the quest for an icon consumes their lives. Hammett illuminates the detrimental consequences of such quests through the aforementioned loss of identity, life, and freedom.
This message is countered by the existentialistic denouncement of all icons. Existentialism provides a simple solution for such futile quests: lives are not wasted in the search of an icon. In pursuit of a precious icon, all characters lose themselvesâ€”a root of the existentialist crisis: loss of self, questioning of existence (â€œExistentialismâ€). Another theme of inquiry in Hammettâ€™s novel deals with the constant search for the truth. Spade, the protagonist, is tormented by the ambiguity of truth throughout the novel.
Spade is forced to discern lies from the truth within the first pages of the novel, where he meets Brigid, or rather â€œMiss Wonderlyâ€ as she is dubbed upon primary introduction. Brigid, notorious for her deceitful ways, confesses to Spade, once an invested relationship is established between the two: â€œI am a liar. I have always been a liarâ€ (353). Layman observes that â€œthe challenge for Spade in the book is to make up the rules as he goes along; to decide for himself, without outside guidance, what he believes and what he believes inâ€ (71). These decisions shape Spadeâ€™s actions and help to define his character.
Spade, concerning himself â€œwith the quest for relevance and authenticity,â€ as David Pickus writes in his expose on existentialism, is not the only character involved in the search for truth (17). Brigid, Gutman, Cairo, and Wilmer are forced to come to terms with the quest for truth and authenticity when it is discovered their falcon is a mere fabrication of the true Maltese falcon. After shaving the black enamel from the base of the falcon Gutman exclaims â€œitâ€™s a fake. â€ Gutman reacts with his â€œbreath [hissing] between his teethâ€ and â€œhis face [becoming] turgid with hot bloodâ€ (430).
This is representative of the anger Gutman possesses upon the realization of this on-going search for authenticity. Another method in which Hammett unveils existentialistic undertones is through his self-absorbed characters. Layman writes about Spade: â€œHe is defining who he is. That is the simplest statement of the philosophy of existentialismâ€¦â€ (71). Spade relies solely on himself and often stretches the hands of the law. He undermines the police in order to prevent interference within his investigations, denouncing their authority.
For example, when Dundy, a police officer tells Spade, â€œYouâ€™ve gotten away with this and youâ€™ve gotten away with that, but you canâ€™t keep it up forever. â€ Spade nonchalantly replies: â€œStop me when you canâ€ (341). The article from the Philosophy website, titled â€œExistentialismâ€ states that â€œan existentialist believes that a person should be forced to choose and be responsible without the help of laws, ethnic rules, or traditions. â€ Spade epitomizes this idea with his actions throughout the novel. Brigid is another character who does not function within the realm of laws and rules; however, she is a less responsible character than Spade.
Brigidâ€™s efforts are invested into self-preservation. She continuously fights to stay one step ahead of everyone through creating a web of lies, which ultimately becomes a defining element of her character. Her deceitfulness and obsession with obtaining her desires without concern for consequence or reputation demonstrates her loss of self in pursuit of something worthless; she becomes nothing more than a wanton woman with no true identity. In addition to his characterization, Hammett also utilizes the Flitcraft parable as a means of conveying existentialistic thought.
Martin Harris writes: â€œThe Flitcraft parable has been examined closely by those who see the story providing an important key to Hammettâ€™s feelings about the meaning (or lack thereof) of human existenceâ€ (241). The Flitcraft parable tells the story of a man who completely changed his life in consequence of one random event. Flitcraft, a satisfied family man, encountered a near death experience via a construction beam plummeting into his path. This event made him contemplate the randomness of lifeâ€”there are no certainties. Spade tells Brigid: â€œ[Flitcraft] felt like somebody had taken the lid off life and let him look at the worksâ€ (335).
Flitcraft understood the uncertainty of life after this experience. With this epiphany Flitcraft began a new life; he took the randomness of life and incorporated it into his existence. Aware of mortality and the significance of oneâ€™s identity, Flitcraft exposed himself to an alternate life. While Flitcraft ultimately ended up settling back into his prior lifestyle, the afterglow of his near death experience permitted him to revel in existentialism, for according to the web-article â€œExistentialismâ€ the search of self-being is a fundamental element of the existential philosophy.
Whether it is through various themes, characters, or a well placed anecdote, the undertones of existentialism exist within the pages of Hammettâ€™s novel. Hammett effectively incorporated themes from his era into his literature. In a time where the â€œspirit of optimism in society was destroyed,â€ Hammett acknowledged realism within the text of his art (â€œExistentialismâ€). While existentialism no longer has an intoxicating hold on modern society, it lives in the pages of influential authors. The Maltese Falconâ€™s subtle cues to such great philosophical ideas assist in the significance that Hammettâ€™s works hold to this day.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.