You should try to provide a counterargument in any essay. This shows you know the novel well enough to see other arguments and interpretations.

Remember that characters and situations are rarely simple and that – as with most real life people and events - there are often two sides to most opinions.

In this case some points of counterargument could be:

  • The introduction of the character of Jerry changes things for Alec and his childhood becomes a much happier experience.
  • The poetic language used to describe Alec’s interactions with Jerry can be contrasted with the terse language used in dialogue between his parents to show the change in his mood. For example, the early description of Jerry’s “shining grinning face” conjures up images of happiness in the memory of this childhood meeting. The enthusiastic way Alec describes Jerry is emphasised by the “sparks of water” that “flew from his arm”. The adjectives and verbs used to describe Jerry portray a joy in life that seems alien to Alec, who has only lived with the inhibitions and lack of emotion in his household. These vivid descriptions show that he had many moments of joy despite his unhappy and stifling home circumstances.
  • Short sentences are used to show how precious this secret friendship is to Alec, “I had a friend. A private and secret friend.” This shows his pride and excitement as he has never had a friend of his own before.
  • Alec’s father is shown to care about Alec’s welfare, even if he is not very successful in fighting for his case. Frederick’s desperation when he pleads with Alicia that she must “Ponder deeply before you take away my son” shows that he cannot bear to lose Alec to war. He can’t express what he calls “sentimentality”, but his gesture in giving money and his watch to Alec before he goes to war expresses how much he cares. This shows that Alec had one parent who had affection for him.