Not for lads

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  • Publié le : 11 juin 2010
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Not for Lads

-Melvin Burgess

“Not for lads” is an extract of Melvin Burgess’ book entitled “Billy Elliot” which was published in 2001. It was also made into a musical play and a movie.

There are 3 characters in this extract: Billy (the son), his father, and his “nan.”

The main issue raised in this document, is whether ballet is suitable for boys ornot. This matter is addressed in a passive way on the way back home, because even though none said a word, tension was very present between the two men, and in a confrontational way once they arrive home. None of them greet the grandmother, as they both felt stressed. The reader can guess that the characters involved in this extract are from the working class, given the words they use in theirexchange and the expressions they use to describe the context such as “it’s not going on strike and standing up for yourself and sticking it out with your mates and all hanging in together.” (L.36-37)

Throughout this whole text, the atmosphere between the father and his son is quite tensed, and it seems they are having more of a confrontation rather than a conversation.

The following commentarywill be two-fold: the first part will focus on a growing tension between a father and his son. As for the second part, it will emphasize how both men perceive things differently.

In the first part of this extract, what the reader can deduce is that the boy and his father do not have a good relationship, Billy even refers to his dad as “the bastard” (l.3). We are with Billy andwe are waiting for the argument and/or punishment. Like him, we do not know what is going to happen, but we can sense trouble is not far away.

Once home, Billy could not face his father and looked at his grand-mother as “it was easier than having to look at [his father]” (l12-13). Also, what can be assumed from the first paragraph is that, it was not the first time the two characters were insuch a situation “the longer he goes without saying anything, the worse trouble you’re in”(l.6) Billy explains.

Furthermore, it is obvious that Billy is determined, and he will not let his father get his way, “he could wait forever. It was stupid! What had I done wrong?”(L.8-9).

All the way through their dialogue the father refuses to listen to his son, and even accuses him of “trying to wind[him] up” (l.14). At one point, the father even wonders if his son is “asking for a hiding” (l.42).

There is an evident understanding-breach between the two, Billy did not “understand why it was so bloody important that [he] shouldn’t do ballet” (l. 44-45) while his father insists that “lads do football or boxing or wrestling” (l.20-21); not dancing.

The grandmother only interferes once, “Iused to go to ballet” (l. 18) she said. Maybe it was her way to try to defend Billy, who uses her statement to prove that there’s nothing wrong with dancing ballet, whereas for his father, this is a proof that ballet if only for women, not for men.

It is through this statement that the reader can truly understand how the father and the son are different and why they can’t seem to find acompromise, which brings us to the second part of our review.

As for the second part of this commentary, it is important highlight the contrast between the two men. Billy is rather naïve, whereas his father is more realistic and fears what society might think of his son. The latter’s argument is based on prejudice and he stereotypes lads who dance ballet as being homosexuals. He insists thatdancing is for girls only and wants his son to be manlier.

One can sense the generation gap here, and both men are stubborn enough, hence, adding tension to the argument. None is willing to give and take, both are convinced of their views.

Being young, Billy does not have any prejudice yet: true, he understands that ballet is usually for women, but he sees no harm in dancing ballet too. He...
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