Rudge is the least clever of the boys. The teachers regard him as a lost cause, and are very surprised when he gets in.
He is the most hardworking, as shown by the effort he puts into writing down and doing what his teachers say. This hardworking characteristic is the key to his success as a self-made man in the building industry – a career which the others look down on, but which he is proud of.
He excels at sports – and points out that playing golf can be more of an asset than all the brains of the other boys.
Rudge is patronised by students and teachers, but he is not stupid. He knows that they do so, and challenges it at the end, winning a concession from Mrs Lintott, who is also patronised as a woman in an all-male environment.
His position among the boys is represented by his position in the class photograph – sitting on the floor. Although he is promoted to a chair, the Headmaster swiftly sends him back down to the floor.