A character study of Shelter from Stone cold. Show how our view of the character changes throughout the novel. Shelter is one of the two first-person narrators in Robert Swindell’s Stone cold. In the novel Swindell’s follows the runaway teenager, Link, from his home in Bradford to the mean streets of London where his path crosses that of Shelter, an ex-soldier who creates his own army while also cleaning up the streets of the homeless people he despises. In this essay I will show how the character is portrayed and how our view of him changes throughout the novel.
In daily routine orders 3 Swindell’s choice of language makes Shelter sound very negative and hateful in the way he talks about homeless people. Swindells also uses army terms such as ‘Tour of inspection’ and it tells us that Shelter must be an ex-soldier and must still believe he is one. This gives us the impression that there’s something not quite just right about Shelter. In daily routine orders 4 Shelter goes on to explain how the secret of victory in any campaign is planning and preparation. He describes his planning as being “Meticulous and my preparations are now complete”.
One of the things he has acquired has helped him to complete and that is a cat. He talks of the cat as his distraction to who he really is. “A man who keeps a cat can’t possible mean any harm, can he? ” He also named the cat Sappho which will project an image of a kind man who cares. There’s not yet any indication of violent intentions but there is a suspicion of something untoward. Daily routine orders 5 & 6 enters into Shelter’s concept pf his ‘mission’ and we learn about his abnormal thought and views on murder.
He believes that killing the homeless people on the streets is his job, his duty to his country. He creates a pleasant and warm atmosphere among the victims to make them feel safe and willing to do whatever he says for shelter and food and drink. “He fell for it, hook, line and sinker”. Shelter tricked someone therefore planning it and not feeling regret for it. He uses the words ‘do-gooder’ which simply means someone who does good things. He uses these words throughout the novel to mock people who actually are ‘do-gooders’. Further on in the novel Shelter describes the people he has killed as ‘waste’.
This tells us he couldn’t care less about how those people who were humans just like him. He tempts them with food and warmth and when they have their backs turned he strikes. We start off thinking that there is something not quite right about Shelter and the further we get on through the novel the clearer it becomes that Shelter is completely insane. In daily routine orders 12 & 13 Shelter is much more open about his ‘army’. “My lad’ll not be doing a lot of yomping, so it doesn’t matter if the footwear is a bit slack or a bit snug”.
Obviously he’s describing a sort of ‘Dead Army’ and he has been making them look the part; cutting their hair all the same length, giving them the same boots even if they aren’t always the perfect fit since they are not going to be marching around anywhere because, as we know, they are all dead, murdered by Shelter to be precise. By this point in the novel we can tell he is absolutely insane. Shelter’s claims to be clever are completely correct. The way he coaxes people into believing he is a genuinely kind, friendly, caring and approachable man, takes skill. He can put on such a good act.
In daily routine orders 15 he plays the part of a man who is truly upset about his missing cat and asks Link if he’s seen it. Also in daily routine orders 15 he fools the police into believing he had nothing to do with the disappearance of Tanya. In terms of cleverness Shelter is brilliant, completely undetectable. Link and Shelter finally meet but now we see Shelter through Links eyes. In this last chapter you start feeling sorry for Shelter. To get like he is he must of have a pretty rough life. Link goes on about how Gail will come to save him and Shelter says “She’ll let you down, they always do”.
With that statement we are told that he must have had a girlfriend in the past that let him down which immediately makes you feel sorry for him. So yes, seeing Shelter through Links eyes does change our view of him. I still wouldn’t trust him more than Link, based on what I already know. To conclude my essay on how Shelter changes throughout the novel. I’d say my view of shelter changed when we came to the end of the novel. To start with he was just plain strange. He gradually went from strange to right out insane. When we came to see Shelter through Links eyes I felt sorry for him and he needed a lot of psychological help.