walked out on them.down the rubbish chute andirresponsible behaflat and thethey will stay together and they embark on an escape but with their faces on everytelevision screen and in eveand eventually track down the man who walked out on them.
Readers are introduced to Rory and his Granda as they wait for Dr Nicol in the waiting room.The doctor is concerned that Rory is too young to take care of his grandfather. However,Rory is aware that there are only two of them in the family.
Granda has a failing memory; always misplacing things. Rory has the sole responsibility of taking care of Granda like buying him his lunch every day.
Rory sacrifices some of the things he likes for Granda. He gives up football so that he canbe at home with his Granda. Rory’s worry is that if Granda is put into Rachnadar, they would be separated. Rory’s dad had left them many years ago and Granda is very disappointed with his son, not wanting to see him again.
Granda is very popular with Rory’s friends and meets Mrs. Foley for the first time. Grandaaccidentally sets fire to his and Mrs. Foley’s coats at the school’s Parents’ Night.
Val Jessup, a social worker is assigned to take care of Granda and Rory. Darren’s mum and Mrs. Foley are both worried for Rory and are glad of the extra help they were going toreceive. However, Granda has a little accident in the flat and is taken to the hospital.
Granda has suffered from smoke inhalation and has to be hospitalised. Rory pleads to theBig Man to make Granda wake up. Val Jessup is nervous to let Rory live in the flat aloneand drives him to the children’s home at Castle Street.
Rory goes to the home because he has no choice and he thinks that it will be for only onenight – till his granda is out of the hospital. Tess, a young inmate of the home, terrifies Rorywith her bad behaviour.
Granda admits that he had forgotten that the chip pan was on the stove, hence the fire in theflat. He tries to appease Rory by saying that he would get better soon. However, he is upsetthat his grandson is in the Castle Street home.
Although Rory loves his grandfather, he is slightly annoyed with him as well because of theaccident; he had landed himself in the hospital because of that and now Rory is in achildren’s home. Rory goes back to the flat with Val and collects Granda’s medication.There, Rory realises that he wants to return home. Granda feels the same too.
Rory is given the idea that Mrs Foley might foster Rory. Rory goes to the hospital to find thatGranda is not there anymore.
Granda has been shifted to Rachnadar. Val Jessup tells Rory that he is just a boy and thathe cannot take care of Granda anymore.
Granda is very upset to be sent to the home and it breaks Rory’s heart to see him cry. AtCastle Street, Rory fights with Tess. Rory becomes exasperated when Granda retreats further and further into a shell while at Rachnadar and at school, the idea of being fosteredby Mrs Foley worries him. Life is certainly unpleasant in Castle Street when Tess becomesincreasingly uncontrollable. Rory decides that the only way is to run away with Granda.
The Great Escape. Darren offers the use of his mom’s caravan and Rory plans the escapewith great detail. Granda relies on Rory to get out of Rachnadar.
Granda is like a little boy, allowing him to be led; safe in the knowledge that Rory would lookafter him. He is happy to be in the caravan and decides that he is indeed a lucky man todeserve a boy like Rory. Rory has done all of this so that they could be together. Herealises that he would never let anyone separate them.
Happy in the caravan, Granda recovers his old self.
While fishing, they meet strangers and Granda is prejudiced when he calls them “tinkers”.As Granda’s health improves and both of them are happy, Darren sends Rory a textmessage saying that the authorities are after them.
Rory prepares Granda for another move away from the police but as they move through thewoods, the strangers whom they had met the day before, reach out and help them.
Rory has no choice and allows them to lead. They are taken to an older caravan camp andRory meets Tyrone and his family. Tyrone’s mom responds that they had helped thembecause it was Rory that they had wanted to help.
They are taken care of well in Sammy’s camp. While there, they realise that they are the topstory on the Scottish news as a boy and his grandfather on the run. Apparently, theauthorities are worried about Granda whose health is a real concern. Granda decides thathe would rather die of cold and hunger as long as he is free.
Granda and Rory are worried that Sammy would get into trouble by helping them. ButSammy insists that he did not kidnap them and that they are not escaped convicts. Rorylearns never to be judgemental of people.
The runaways enjoy the birthday party in Sammy’s brother’s place. Ruby reads Rory’s futureand predicts that he would meet people who would help him; some of whom he would not beable to trust. He would certainly find what he is looking for but would face a terrible sadnessbefore that.
The public has mixed responses over Rory and Granda’s running away. Ruby indicates thatpeople are taking sides about them, arguing about the rights and wrongs of their case. Roryrealises that they would have to be on the move again. Sammy suggests that he drives themto Dundee so that they can take a train to Glasgow to be with family friends who wouldprovide them with shelter and time to think.
In the train, Rory realises that they have been recognised and alights at an earlier station.When Granda goes to the toilet, Rory is bullied by a young man who recognises him.Granda beats the latter with a bottle and decides that he will steal a car to escape.
Granda seems an expert at stealing cars and his driving scares Rory. They stop at the lay byto have some rest.
The runaways meet Rab when they stop to buy petrol. He offers them help.
Rab says that he wants to help them because Rory and Granda are not criminals. He allowsthem the use of his flat and seems kind and concerned. Though pale and tired, Granda saysthat he is alright as long as he is with Rory. Rory prays for help because he realises heneeds someone to help him. Again TV newsflashes show that the public is very much ontheir side and Rory gets to know that his Granda’s son, his father, has been traced to Liverpool.
The television news states that neither Rory nor his grandfather have attempted to contactJeff McIntosh in Liverpool. Rab encourages Rory to take his grandfather to his son.
Rab has a grand idea to make sure that they get to Liverpool. A whole line of people aregoing to take them to Rory’s dad and Granda comments that the world is indeed wonderfulafter having experienced so much kindness.
Annie drives them into England and leaves them with Norma and Nicola. The latter admiresRory for what he has done. Granda agrees but his mood changes when he finds out thatthey are going to his son in Liverpool.
Granda refuses to go and for the first time Rory is frustrated. He had hoped that his father would take over the responsibility of Granda but Granda thinks that it would hurt Rory toomuch if his father would leave them again. Rory begins to hate his father and Grandaconsoles him by saying that they have never needed him and that they do not need himnow. Nicola rings up to tell Rory that the police are coming and that they would have tomove on.
It is the second escape; both of them run out into the dark. Granda is tired and they bothstop to rest and eventually sleep off at a stone bus shelter. Prior to that Granda says that if he was to die, he would as a happy man. On awakening, Rory is not able to awaken hisgrandfather and is afraid that he may be dead.
Rory runs for help and remembers Ruby’s prophecy about the terrible sadness.Help comesimmediately and the police introduce him to his father.
Granda is not dead. He is hospitalised and recovers eventually. Rory is reunited with his dad and his family. He has two little sisters who endear themselves to Granda. His dad asks to be given another chance to prove that he can be a good dad and a good son again. Rory has found what he was looking for and realises that if anything happens to his Granda he will not be alone again. He is thankful to all who have helped them on their journey. He is very happy that he, Granda and his family are together again.
Rory’s grandfather. Also known as Mister McIntosh. Elderly,partially senile and never quite well, with a tendency to forget whathe is doing (never puts off his pipe properly till it smoulders intoflames). Loves his grandson dearly and cannot bear the thought of being separated from him. Rises to the occasion when leastexpected to. Hurt by his son’s departure from the family and after his daughter-in-law’s death, is dedicated to taking care of Rory
A young boy, still in school who is dedicated to taking care of hisaging grandfather. Shows determination and courage even indesperate situations (when the grandfather is admitted inRachnadar). Mature, he understands why his grandfather refusesto meet his own father.
A young and eager social worker who is responsible for Rory’s wellbeing. Responsible, she is anxious that Granda receives his fullpension benefits and arranges for Rory to stay at the children’shome in Castle Street.
Rory’s teacher who is keenly aware of his inability to pass up hishomework because of his duty to care for his grandfather. She isvery concerned when Granda is admitted into the hospital andrealises that Rory should not be in the children’s home.
Rory’s best friend in school who helps him to stay in the mother’scaravan when Granda is taken away from Rachnadar.
Reconciliates with his father and son when hesees them on television.
Sammy, Ruby and Tyrone
The family that offers comfort and security knowing that if they did not, the police wouldhave taken Rory and his grandfather away.
Rab and his friends
Offer security and are keen for Rory and Granda to go to Liverpool to meet with Rory’sfather.
Challenges of growing up and learning about responsibility.
Rory is eleven years old and he should be playing football and enjoying being a boy but he has the big responsibility of keeping Granda safe and away from Rachnadar.Granda looked after him in those days and now he knows it is his duty to look after him now.Rory accepts that responsibility with a great attitude and does not hesitate to do his duty.But from being just a student,Rory grow up within a short frame of time to make decisions and to act with great responsibility.
Love, compression and family relationships
Granda and Rory love each other and that guides all their actions.Granda loves his son,Jeff but feels let down by what happened years ago.He love Rory's mother dearly too.Granda looked after Rory before and now Rory wants to look after his Granda.That is family love.Rory's friends care for him.They are fond of Granda too.Mrs.Foley,Val Jessup and Darren's mum show concern for Rory and Granda.The people who help Rory and Granda prove to be caring and compassionate.
The novel emphasizes the important of social responsibility.Doctor Nicol, the teacher,Mrs. Foley, Darren's mum and Val Jessup feel that Rory need help at home and that he should be enjoying his boyhood and not be burdened with the responsibility of looking after an ageing and ailing grandparent.The police officials and the nurses are seen as kind and compassionate.even the inmates at the children's home care about what is happening to Rory and want to help him.The public has a social responsibility.We see their involvement as they help Rory and Granda on their great escape.Members of the public believe strongly that the two should not be separated and voice their opinion on television.The great escape would not be possible without the support and help of the public.Thus society has a great role to play in molding people to be what they are.
Power and authority
The social welfare service sees to the very young and the very old. The decision of the authorities are not always right and must be questioned.Ruby the traveler complain that social workers check on Tyrone to see if he is getting his education and is not being abused in any way . The authorities can be nasty to the gypsies and people on the fringes of society.The police bring fear and anxiety but they are also seen as being compassionate in their dealings with Rory.The authorities chase after Rory and Granda but the public is mainly on their side and people help them all the way.Power and authority can be defeated by 'people power'.
Urban modern living.
When the story began we have the setting of modern living which consisted of Granda’s apartment block, school, shops where Rory bought lunch and the doctor’s clinic. These were the settings in Rory’s and Granda’s daily lives. The name of the town was not given but we know it was close to the Clyde river and close to Glasgow. From the description, it did not seem that Rory lived in a very big town.
State institutions: hospital, children’s home and old folks home.
When Granda got sick from a fire that broke out in their apartment, we had the hospital setting where granda was recovering from smoke inhalation. Then, after the authorities moved in and moved Rory to the children’s home and Granda to the old folks home, we have the dark period in the story with its dark settings of Castle Street and Rachnadar.
The sombre descriptions of the Castle Street home and Rachnadar reflected this sad and dark period.Castle Steet was described as ‘grey, deadstone, crow-step gables (crow associated with death); ‘patches of cloud’and ‘an eerie silver light’.
Rachnadar was described as ‘the very building, stuck on the edge of town, dark and forbidding, frightened him (Granda). It frightened me too.’
Dark, unsettling time.
This period in Rory’s life reflected his uncertain, unsettling mood with the mad Tess adding an element of worry and frenzy to Rory’s life. Rory who not only had to contend with his Granda being miserable and who seemed to have lost the fight in him at Rachnadar, he also had to contend with the boys and girls living in the home. Both the homes were the backdrop for this dark, sombre and uncertain period in Rory’s life.
On the run: countryside caravan site.
When Rory ran away with Granda, several places were mentioned. There were ‘Perthshire, Dundee, Forfar and Perth. No mention made of the actual town in which Rory lived with Granda and went to school.
The first place when they were on the run was the countryside and the caravan site where Rory had taken refuge in Darren’s mum’s caravan. This idyllic period was momentary. In this rustic calm and peaceful setting the pair were left alone and were safe. They were able enjoy the charms of the countryside. This setting was a suitable backdrop for a time when Rory and Granda felt free and happy. But this happy mood was not to last.
The back roads in the countryside.
After being saved by Tyrone and family, there was more countryside and more travelling as the pair took refuge in Tyrone’s caravan. Of this Rory said: “Next morning we were on the move again, travelling north through the lush countryside of Perthshire.” This setting was one of friendship, warmth, hospitality and good food.
Rail station and train journey.
Sammy left them at the bleak and impersonal setting of the railway station at Dundee. They travelled by rail travel before the pair got off at Perth. At Perth, granda stole a car to carry on their journey.
Car journeys on back roads of countryside.
Travelling in the stolen car, it was the open road and back roads again for the pair until they stopped for petrol at Rab’s gas station.
A short rest at Rab’s and it here when watching TV that Rory found he had a father living in Liverpool and he made the decision to go on to Liverpool. Liverpool suggested hope for a solution to Rory’s problems! There was more road travel in Rab’s car as the pair made their way to Liverpool. This was the setting for Rory’s feeling of isolation and desperation and helplessness.
The pair were running out of hope it would seem. Yet, Liverpool promised hope. The setting moved south into the open road and countryside as Rab drove them to the Lake District. Before reaching the border with England they were met by Annie, Rab’s girlfriend who were to take them another stretch of the way. Annie took them to her cousin Norma’s house in the Lake district.
The Lake District.
They reached Norma’s house but unfortunately, Norma thought it best if they were handed to the authorities. They were told of Norma’s betrayal of them by Nicola, Norma’s daughter.
The bus shelter in the Lake District.
After being warned by Nicola, they escaped on foot from Norma’s house and they walked a long way until they came upon a bus shelter, intending to catching a bus. After falling asleep, it was at this setting and that Rory found Granda unconscious.
Frantic, Rory went to get help and came across a house where he asked for help.The man went in his car to get Granda. Then the police came and an ambulance too. It was at this time that Rory met his father. All this happened in the setting of the Lake District as was implied. We have the setting of the bus shelter in which a dramatic point was reached in the story.
The McIntosh family was re-united in Liverpool. Again, the setting of home, family, warmth, security and being taken care of by both social services and family and a feeling of security and family togetherness ever after.
POINT OF VIEW
The novel is seen through the eyes of Rory. We as the readers get access to his young mind – how he thinks, feels and reacts and at the same time we can appreciate Rory’s growth and maturation because the first person narration has made it possible for an inside view of Rory’s mind.
The journey and the escape -It symbolises the desired freedom and that both need to be together.
The caravan – It gives the idea or feeling of safety, privacy and security; both feel very safe in the caravans until it is time to run again.
Movies and movie stars – They refer to Granda’s constant memory of what he likes
and remembers best . Here they are always tending to verge on an element of fantasy.
· -Family relationships and bonds must be appreciated and maintained.
· -Communication is an important feature among friends and family members.
· -Trust is a vital component in bridging generations.
· -Appearances may not be what they seem.