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Across the barricades
This book is about the friendship between a Protestant girl and a Catholic boy, both living in Belfast, Ireland.
The situation is quite difficult as there’s a war between those two religions and their families and friends don't agree with their friendship.
Sadie Jackson is 16 and lives together with her brother Tommy and her parents in Belfast. Kevin McCoy lives only a few streets away from her with his parents and 7 sisters and brothers. One of his sisters is Brede with whom he has a very good relationship. Kevin works in a scrapyard of Kate Kelly’s father.
Although Sadie and Kevin live so close to each other they haven't seen each other for three years. They were good friends then, but then they had a fight and Brede nearly died.
Sadie and Kevin meet by chance in the streets three years after this fight. They spend the whole day together. Unfortunately they meet Linda Mullet, the neighbour of Sadie. No Protestant girl meets a Catholic boy so there is enough gossip which Linda can tell her mother. So the news about Sadie meeting Kevin, spread very quickly.
Sadie is a quite headstrong person who doesn’t let anybody make decisions about her life, so she keeps on seeing Kevin.
One day Kevin meets Brian Rafferty, a former schoolfriend of his, who is a very aggressive person. He has a rifle, hidden under his bed, and wants to hide it in Mr. Kelly’s scrapyard. He can't forgive Kevin for not helping him. So one night he and some friends beat him up so that he is badly hurt.
Now the situation has started to become more and more complicated. Sadie has lost her job because of the relationship with Kevin and Brede is asking Sadie not to meet Kevin again because it’s better for them as they have already got many enemies. It’s a hard decision for Sadie as she wants to have peace but she also wants to have her own mind.
But then they find a good friend in Mr. Blake, a former schoolteacher of Sadie. He’s a Protestant but doesn’t mind about those conflicts between the religions. Besides it’s very peaceful in the area where he lives. He offers Sadie and Kevin his house for their secret meetings and a job for Sadie as the caretaker of his house.
Living in Belfast becomes more and more dangerous. There are many burnt-out cars, barbed-wire barricades, tanks touring the streets together with soldiers with guns on patrol. Finally Mrs. McConkey’s shop explodes and the woman dies.
One day there’s a search in the houses of Kevin’s street. The soldiers don't find anything in the McCoy’s house but in the night they come back. They have found the gun in Mr. Kelly’s scrapyard, which Brian Rafferty has hidden there before. The police suspects Kevin as being the owner of the gun because Brian and Kate have made a false statement. Kate is very angry at Kevin and jealous of Sadie as she has a crush on Kevin, who still meets Sadie.
One day Kevin decides to beat Brian up. So he waits for him around a corner in the street and they have a fight where Brian is hurt. In the meantime Mr. Blake gets some anonymous letters with the sentence „You have been warned“. He is a bit worried but doesn’t tell Sadie and Kevin and burns them all. He should have taken them more seriously besause a few days later they have a terrible car accident when they all - Mr. Blake, Sadie, Kevin and the dog - go on a trip. Nobody is badly hurt but the police find that someone has opened all the nuts of the wheels. Sadie suspects Steve - a former schoolfriend of her, Kevin is thinking of Brian Rafferty or one of his friends, but both don’t say anything to the police. Mr. Blake tells the policemen about the anonymous letters he got.
So under these dangerous circumstances Sadie and Kevin decide not to meet so often because they don’t want any crime to happen again. They meet every Wednesday at Mr. Blakes, arriving and leaving at separate times. So nobody could think that they are still meeting each other.
Also Kevin has lost his job now at Mr. Kelly’s scrapyard because of this story with the hidden gun. Kevin goes to the Labour Exchange but no one there can help him. Unemployment is so high and so Kevin has no hope of a job.
Then the big day, the 12th July comes. It’s a day the Protestants celebrate. There’s a parade, music, bonfires and everybody is there. Nearly every Protestant man joins the Orange Lodge, but not Tommy. He decided not to walk with them because that day three years ago, they had this fight with the Catholics where Brede nearly died. The 12th July is a day where the Protestants defend their faith.
Sadie isn’t interested in that day this year because she’s worrying about Kevin. He hasn’t called her for days. She’s thinking about the reasons he doesn’t call and finally she decides to go to Bangor.
She meets Kevin there by chance. At the end of the day they get home by separate buses. Their relationship is too difficult now. For the first time Kevin tells about his idea of leaving Belfast to work and live in another city. But if he gets a job in Belfast he would stay, he reassures Sadie, who doesn’t agree with this idea.
Although Mr. Kelly tells Kevin that he wants him back working for him and Kevin needs work urgently he doesn’t take it again.
There are many disturbances the next night. There are shoutings, the sound of gunfires, rumble of armoured cars in the street where the Jacksons live. They are worried about it but they also are used to the noises.
The next morning Mr. Henderson, the neighbour of Mr. Blake, comes around to Sadie and tells her terrible news: Mr. Blake has been killed! Someone has thrown a petrol bomb into his house and it exploded before he could get out. There has never been any trouble in the area Mr. Blake lives, it is the first time somebody is killed.
Sadie feels terrible. She is sure that it is all her fault because she kept on meeting Kevin after the first attack to the car.
Now Kevin makes a final decision: He is going to leave Belfast. He feels he can't stay any longer because he doesn’t have a job and he’s so sick of bombs and people getting killed. It’s not the way he wants to live. He wants to go to London and leave all the problems behind.
On the docks he meets Sadie. He thinks she wants to say goodbye to him but he’s wrong. Sadie tells him the good news that she will go with him to London. She hasn’t told her family, she just walked out to the ship without any luggage. But she doesn’t mind. So Kevin and Sadie go to London together where they won’t have any problems with their religions and their relationship.
- Arbeit zitieren
- Rößl, Priska (Autor), 1999, Lingard, John - Across the Barricades, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/95517