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Essays on Evan Hunter´s "On the Sidewalk Bleeding"


In Hunter´s story a "Royal" is stabbed in gang warfare. Read the complete story here.

 

Street victim finds no helper A Royal is stabbed and dies being Andy
The pride of a Royal turns into remorse Hunter´s story: Gang solidarity vs. individual identy

Street Victim finds no helper

In the short story “On the Sidewalk Bleeding” by Evan Hunter the author tells us about the problems with the different groups of mainly young people organized in gangs in the USA. The main thing is that there is not only a conflict between the gangs but another conflict between the gangs and the people who are not in such gangs.
The 16-year-old boy Andy is lying in the street on the sidewalk after he was ambushed. He belongs to a gang called The Royals and knows that he was attacked by the rival gang named The Guardians. While lying there he begins to think about his situation and the story shows that he is in trouble with himself.
At the beginning he does not realize that he is going to die because he seems to be often involved in such street rumbles and therefore thinks it is just a little injury, although, of course, he is hoping for someone to find and help him.

There are three types of people who find him, but only one of them realizes that Andy needs help. The first one is a drunken man who does not realize that Andy is injured badly. He thinks Andy is drunk, too, and so he leaves him lying there. The third person is an old woman who cannot hear very well and does not notice Andy at all. She is looking for something in the garbage cans and so it can be assumed that she is poor, may be even homeless. She leaves without seeing Andy lying there. These persons stand for the group of people who need help like Andy. They cannot help Andy because they are needy themselves.
But the second person who comes along the road is a boy with his girlfriend. The author even mentions their names. So the young couple is not anonymous like the first and the third person. Freddie – the boy – finds Andy and also sees that he is injured, that he needs help. But his girlfriend Angela is afraid because they notice Andy’s jacket with the name of his gang on it. So the couple knows that he belongs to that gang. They decide not to help him. The young couple is most important for Andy’s development. As he sees the couple he thinks of his own girlfriend Laura and then – when he sees them kissing – he wonders if he would ever be able to kiss Laura again. That is when he realizes that he is going to die. And it is also the couple´s fear which shows him that there is not only his gang and another gang, but people who are generally afraid of gangs. They do not want to be involved in their violence. And so he wonders about his own role in the gang and in society. He thinks that he is just an anonymous member of any gang and that he wants to be appreciated as an individual. In the end Andy takes off his jacket with the name on it because he does not want to remain an unknown member. He wants to be Andy and he wants the other people to know that. Getting out of his jacket seems to be like the liberation from the gang. His girlfriend Laura finds him dead and fetches a policeman but as he sees the jacket with the title The Royals on it the boy seems just one more victim of gang warfare for which he has no sympathy. (C.H., 11c, March 2009)

 

The pride of a Royal turns into remorse

The text “On the Sidewalk Bleeding” by Evan Hunter is about a 16-year-old boy called Andy who is a member of the “Royals” and is stabbed by a “Guardian”. Injured, he is lying on the sidewalk and waiting for someone passing to help him. But on this rainy day not many people are passing him. He is very unlucky because nobody wants to help him or does not want to get mixed up in the conflict between the “Royals” and the “Guardians”. The help of his girlfriend Laura comes too late. He is already dead when she arrives.

 

The whole story is written in the 3rd person, but even if a narrator always is more distant to the events than the person speaking himself in the 1st person, he makes the reader feel sorry for Andy as he feels directly involved and partly personifies with Andy.

Evan Hunter mentions directly at the beginning that Andy is going to die. Therefore the reader knows more than Andy does because he thinks he “can’t be dying, not from a street rumble, not from just getting cut.” But his thoughts are changing through the whole story. First he just thinks about his future together with Laura because he does not realise that he could die if nobody is helping him. After the first pedestrian – a drunken person who does not notice Andy’s injury – Andy thinks more and more about Laura, because he knows that Laura, of course, would help him immediately. While a couple who could have helped him, comes along he is jealous because he sees them kissing and therefore he “suddenly hungered for Laura’s mouth.” The word “Love”, said by the couple, causes Andy’s drastic change in thoughts. He suddenly thinks that he is going to die but still in combination with thinking about Laura.

The couple does not help him because they “don’t want to get mixed up in this”. Andy’s reaction to this is clear: He cannot understand why they are afraid. He himself was not afraid of the Guardians and “never turkeyed out of a rumble with the Guardians.”

After the frightened couple Andy begins to think about his life, what he has done and what he could do in the future if he was not dying. His conclusion is that he has not “lived yet.”

This makes the reader very sad even if he knows right from the beginning that this would happen. But the way Andy’s emotional thoughts are presented is very decisive for the reader´s sympathy. They are very emotional.

Andy begins to think about his life just because he is dying. That emphasises that he does not want to die. He was so full of pride when he became a “Royal” but he knows that this is the reason why he is dying now. Not he himself as Andy is dying. No, anyone of the “Royals” is dying. It is just the fact that each gang wants to wipe out the other one. But they not necessarily know who they are stabbing. It is amazing how people can just kill. How can there be so much hate?

This makes Andy sad because he will not see Laura again. It is just the jacket he wore lettered with “Royal”. In the end he sincerely wants to get rid of this jacket. He knows that this is the purpose for everything which has happened: First of all that he was stabbed at all. And secondly that the couple did not want to help him. Finally it is clear for him that “the jacket was a stupid meaningless thing that was robbing him of his life.”

Evan Hunter combines stories of possible helpers with all the different thoughts of Andy in the whole story. Therefore the reader can detect the change in Andy and feels that he would have to help Andy if he could because nobody else wants to do it.

 

I think that Evan Hunter wants to express that you have to think about your life while you are living because when you are nearly dead it is too late. You should always be aware of the things you are doing. Another thing he wants to convey is that everybody is just thinking about himself. People do not want to help others if they might be in danger then. I think people should try to live more with each other and not alongside each other. Then Andy would not have had to die as young as he was. (F.S., 11c, March 2009)

 

A Royal is stabbed and dies being Andy

In the story a 16-year-old boy named Andy is lying on the sidewalk bleeding. He got stabbed, probably by some member of another gang than the one Andy is in (‘THE ROYALS’), and is now injured really badly. Every now and then people are walking down the alley. There is a drunken man who is the first one to notice Andy at all. But Andy can neither move nor speak; therefore he is not able to accept the man’s offer to call the police for help. So the drunkard just walks off, leaving Andy behind in the cold and rain, almost dying. Then a couple, Freddie and his girlfriend Angela, appears. Unsure what to do, Freddie decides to check whether Andy’s all right. As he sees the emblem “THE ROYALS” on the jacket though, he turns away from him and tells Angela to leave, although she is hesitating.
While Andy is getting more and more desperate, an old woman suddenly approaches. But she is deaf and does not pay attention to anyone else than herself, so she cannot hear the noise Andy is making to draw her attention. She passes by without even noticing him.
Realizing he is about to die, Andy succeeds in getting his jacket off, because he does not want to belong to THE ROYALS anymore. A little later Laura, Andy’s girlfriend, finds him dead on the sidewalk. Shocked she fetches a policeman who insists on calling Andy a ‘Royal’, whereas Laura wants to speak well of him by calling him a normal boy named Andy.

All over the text there are passages where you can see into Andy’s mind and share his thoughts. At the beginning he does not really think the fight was a bad thing to happen, because he is proud to be a member of the gang ‘The Royals’. He is optimistic, as he believes someone will come and help him. At this point of the story, he does not notice yet that he is actually dying.
Quite often he thinks of his girlfriend Laura and wants her to be at his side. Towards the end this wish increases more and more, when he realizes that his life will soon come to an end.
His efforts to make the people who are walking down the alley hear or see him get more determined as well. The desperation is nearly overwhelming him. He thinks about his time as a Royal and the persistent fight between Royals and Guardians. This is when he understands that being a member of either gang is not as good as he always thought. That is why his last thing he is determined to do is getting off his jacket. He does not want to be found as a Royal, he wants to die as Andy.

The main subject in this story is Andy’s conflict with himself. Thus the analysis of the whole story can be combined with the Andy’s thoughts and development.
At first he worries only about his injury and tries to find out how bad he is injured. At that point he is still proud to be a member of THE ROYALS. From his point of view, he has achieved a good reputation belonging to such a gang. He maybe does not want to be treated as a loser, so he thinks it is a good thing to be part of this group. It is also possible that he wants to be cool in front of his friends, especially in front of his girlfriend.
Many people walk past Andy, but none of them really helps him. Evan Hunter did this to increase the reader’s sympathy for the young, helpless and injured boy. Since he does not get any kind of help, he slowly realizes that he is about to die, and so he uses the time he has got left to reflect on his own life.  He does not want his life to end like this, for he is so young and has not lived yet.
His plan to marry his girlfriend Laura some day changes into the desperate wish to see and kiss her only one last time.
When the couple passes by and turns away from him after noticing the emblem on Andy’s jacket, he regrets being a member of THE ROYALS. He understands that there are far more important things in life than just being ‘cool’ and having a good reputation among his peers. He does not remember anymore why he has spent a lot of time with his gang instead of meeting Laura or doing something with his family. Andy can no longer bear to have anything to do with THE ROYALS, so he gets his jacket off. Now the era of his life which caused him a lot of pain is over. Unfortunately he cannot enjoy a new life without the gang, because he dies. But at least he passes away being Andy, and not being a Royal. (M.M., 11c, March 2009)

 

Hunter´s story: Gang solidarity vs. indivual identity

copyright T.P. 2009In the story “On the Sidewalk Bleeding”, written by Evan Hunter, a sixteen-year-old boy named Andy is lying injured on the sidewalk. He was stabbed by a member of a gang named “Guardians”, because Andy was wearing a jacket with the name of  another gang on it, named “The Royals”. Andy is bleeding and he cannot speak or cry out for help, so he is waiting for someone to find him.

First a man comes down the alley in which Andy is lying, but the man is drunk, so he does not realise that Andy is injured. The man does not help Andy and goes away.
Then a couple comes along the street, but at first they do not see the injured boy. When Andy makes some noise, the boy named Freddie approaches him and realises that Andy is hurt badly. But Freddie does not help him, because he has seen that Andy is a Royal and he does not want to get mixed up in this conflict. Freddie and his girlfriend Angela think about calling a cop, but in the end they do not help Andy.
Next an old lady walks into the alley and takes some things out of some garbage cans. She is homeless and needs help for herself. She neither sees nor hears Andy, because it is raining and she is a little deaf. So Andy does not get help from her either.
In the end Andy´s girlfriend Laura finds him and tries to help him, but he is already dead. Laura does everything to help her boyfriend, she is runs until she finds a policeman. The cop notices that Andy is dead, but he only sees that the dead boy is a “Royal” and is not interested that his name is Andy.

At the beginning of the short story Andy does not realise that he is dying. He feels proud of the rough rumble and only wonders if his girlfriend Laura already misses him. He thinks about Laura and about their common future. Maybe at that point he unconsciously realises that he is going to die. At least he feels that he needs help. Andy wants the drunken man to call a cop, but he does not get help. When he notices the couple he thinks about Laura. He wonders where she is and if he will ever kiss her again. For the first time he wonders if he is dying, but he cannot understand  that such a rumble, which happens every day, can end his life. Andy does not understand why the teenagers Freddie and Angela are afraid of the Guardians, because he himself is not scared of them. Andy remembers how happy he was when “The Royals” had accepted him. At that time “The Royals” were important to him and he felt some kind of pride. But now he realises that he is Andy, not a “Royal” anymore. He wonders whether there is anything good about a gang while he is dying. Now he feels no pride anymore, he only wants to be Andy and wonders if the Guardian stabbed Andy or the “Royal”.

Andy feels weak and alone. He thinks about his life and wonders what he has reached in his short life. He recognizes that other things are more important than “The Royals” and it makes him sad that his life is going to be over. He does not want to die because he has not lived yet.
“The Royals” and the jacket he is wearing have obtained another meaning to him now. He holds the jacket responsible for this rumble and for his death, because nobody has helped him. So it becomes very important to him to take off the jacket, to die without it, knowing that he is Andy.

The story has a drastic beginning. A boy is bleeding and it is raining. Evan Hunter mentions the name of the gang on the jacket, “The Royals”, before he mentions the name of the main character: Andy. To begin with the jacket and the gang are more important than Andy´s individual personality. Already at the beginning of the story the reader is told that the boy will die, although Andy himself does not know that. So the reader begins to feel sorry for Andy. The reader hopes that he will survive, so there is some kind of tension what will happen although in the end Andy will die.
There is a detailed description of Andy´s pain and wounds, so the reader sympathises with him even more. Altogether the author mentions many details, which are partly unimportant – like the colour of the sidewalk. But with such detailed information the reader can better imagine the situation.
Andy is lying on the street and reflects what happened to him. He thinks about his girlfriend Laura and their common future. He wants to move away once they are married, but moving away from this district into a better area means that he cannot a member of the gang any longer. Andy accepts a definite breach with the gang, because the relation to Laura seems more important for him. Again the reader feels sorry for Andy knowing that he would have some happy future, if he was not dying.

Some people are walking past Andy, but they do not really help him. The drunken man does not realise that Andy is hurt. He even forces some liquor on Andy, so the reader feels even more sorry for him. There is some kind of irony because at first the man wants to call a cop, so Andy would be helped, but in the end the drunken man changes his mind and says, “this time you lucky”, because he thinks that Andy is scared of the police.

The couple who could have helped Andy are afraid of getting into trouble themselves, so they do not help Andy either. Andy´s development depends on the behaviour of the other people, so the behaviour of the couple makes him think about his life. He thinks about Laura and he wonders whether he will see her again. And he thinks about the rumble and about “The Royals”. Andy does not understand why the couple is afraid, but now he wonders if he made a mistake by being a member of a gang. Here Andy´s development gets clear, because he wonders about the significance of the name on his jacket. He realises that the name loses its meaning when he is dying. So Andy tries to take off the jacket because he holds it responsible for his death. He does not want to die wearing this jacket and he does not want the person who finds him to say that he is a “Royal”.

When the old lady walks into the alley, the reader wonders why she is mentioned, because she does not even see Andy, so she cannot help him either. But it makes the reader sympathise more with Andy. The old lady is homeless and a little deaf, so she cannot help Andy because she needs some kind of help for herself. The rain prevents her from hearing the noises Andy makes – it is very tragic.

The appearance of these people makes the story more realistic than for example a appearance of a doctor. Because of the rain only some people are outside who are homeless or likewise, so they cannot really help Andy. Laura is the only person who really helps Andy, because she is attentive and realises that Andy is hurt. She loves him and has not got any prejudices because of his jacket, she only sees Andy, not the “Royal” in the boy. But when she finds him it is too late because he is already dead.

The policeman Laura has called has prejudices against “The Royals” and has not got any pity with Andy. So the story ends like it has begun: the jacket and “The Royals” are in the centre of the people´s minds, although Andy wanted to prevent this by taking off his jacket. Andy understood which mistakes he made and showed remorse. Apart from him, only Laura understands which things are really important and maybe the reader, too. (C.S., 11c, March 2009)

 

 

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