Updated September 10, 2022

The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick

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The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick essay
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Cultural assumptions and stereotypes hold back an individual from reaching their potential and don’t allow them to feel that they belong within the environment. The story The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick is focused on a teenage boy named Billy who runs away from his abusive home and goes to a small town called Bendarat to start his new life while meeting new people on the way and building relationships. Throughout the novel, The Simple Gift, society’s outlook on homelessness is manifested in a cliched manner. The novel further highlights negative assumptions concerning teenage relationships and attitudes, and how society downplays the maturity and power of the teenage voice. Economic status is also shown throughout the novel by creating characters that have a low economic status and a high economic status to prove the differences between each status.

In the novel, homelessness is shown in a stereotypical manner from the views of society. Individuals consider homeless people as bums, bludgers, dirty, alcoholics, etc, without acknowledging the reasons why they are truly homeless. Throughout the novel, Billy is associated with homelessness and commitment to prove to himself and others, that no matter what state they are in, there is always hope and time for improvement. Billy transitions to homelessness after experiencing a certain level of domestic abuse in his home, where he now lives in an old abandoned train carriage in Bendarat. “He gave me a backhander when I was only ten”, as actions speak louder than words, his father’s negative impact on Billy’s ability to belong is made apparent when Billy chooses to become homeless rather than staying at home with his abusive father. Whereas, Old Bill had chosen to leave his home and become homeless after experiencing traumatic events relating to his loved ones. Old Bill also lives in an old abandoned train carriage next door to Billy’s.

After a while of Billy becoming homeless, he creates a close friendship with Old Bill and decides to commit to helping Old Bill out and keep him alive. When Old Bill says “I like the kid, I like his company”, it shows the readers that Old Bill and Billy have created a bond together and the devotion and closeness they have towards each other makes them a better and more caring person.

Throughout the story, society views wealthy people as snobby, materialistic, narcissistic, high-status seeking, and non-caring or disrespectful of the lower classes, based on their social economic status. Caitlin’s parents do generally fulfill the stereotypes, as they query Caitlin’s work at Mcdonald’s as they have enough money to afford anything she wants. They buy unnecessary things for Caitlin that she doesn’t need or want and sends her to a very expensive private school. Caitlin chooses to ignore her fortunate circumstances and makes money on her own, while also dating Billy, who exudes none of the characteristics of an “upper-class citizen”.

The challenge associated with not being able to develop a sense of belonging stimulates other characters such as Billy and Caitlin to reject their family values as exterior and look for emotional stability and a new environment of shared values through their growing relationship and love for one another. Within the Simple Gift it can be seen that belonging and not belonging is represented through the various relationships that are transformed through individual characters and their connections to create a vivid example of the stereotypes within society.

Teenagers in society are often seen as rude, lazy, inexperienced in all facts of life, voiceless, petulant, non-resilient, materialistic, and there is not much expected of them. Billy conquers those stereotypes and shows resilience and determination to escape his dysfunctional relationship with his callous father and to make a better life for himself despite the challenges which lie ahead. His experiences throughout the novel prompts Billy to feel more powerful and happy with his life choices, knowing that he is in a better place and is capable of living for his own. Billy proves himself to society and overcomes the stereotypes of teenage life and homelessness by creating a better life for himself and gets a job to improve in his living state, financially and beneficially. Caitlin also overcomes the stereotypes of a teenager as she shows incredible maturity and insight despite her fortunate upbringing and materialistic parents.

The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick essay

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The Simple Gift by Steven Herrick. (2020, Sep 14). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-simple-gift-by-steven-herrick/


How old is Caitlin in the simple gift?
Caitlin is a 17-year-old rich girl frustrated with the impersonal excesses of her privileged family. Together, they are about to discover that simple gifts like time and friendship can connect the most unlikely people.
What is the meaning of the simple gift?
In the book 'The Simple Gift', Steven Herrick, which is the author of the book, is telling readers about the development of belonging . Herrick develops belonging as a thing and that is important. Herrick says that no matter where people belong, everybody will have a place to stay and be a part of life.
What is the message of the simple gift?
The Simple Gift is a beautifully crafted story that reminds us that there is more to people than meets the eye. It has a very positive message about the value of kindness and generosity, the importance of not making assumptions and the impact of simply taking the time to hear someone's story .
What is the setting of the simple gift?
The story focuses on Billy, who is sixteen years old and living in Australia. Billy's father is abusive. To escape familial turmoil, Billy hops on a freight train and settles in a small town .
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