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The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole




 The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole

Sue Townsend is the creator of Britain's best-loved and best-selling diaries, namely the Adrian Mole diaries!

She was born in Leicester in 1946 is married and has four children. She grew up in a working class family and left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications. In 1978 she joined a writer's group at the Phoenix Art Centre in Leicester. The diary entries were read by one of the actors, who sent them to the BBC. When the book was published it was an extraordinary success.



There are 4 books in the collection:

-         The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾

-         Growing Pains of Adrian Mole

-         Adrian Mole: The Wilderness Years

-         Adrian Mole: Cappuccino Years

Together the mole diaries have sold over 8 million copies. Have been adapted for radio, television, theatre and there are even Adrian Mole computer games.

I read the Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ and now I am going to tell you a short summary of the plot.

The book deals with the problems of teenage life of a 13-¾ year old boy. His diary takes you trough a year of his life and begins with New Year resolutions. It   starts revealing his personality.

Adrian's parents quarrel all the time about their neighbour Mr. Lucas who is left by his wife.                                                                                                     Adrian decides to become an intellectual and writes a letter to the BBC to ask what to do about being an intellectual. By writing poems and reading, in general by being an intellectual, he is able to escape from his problems.

His best friend Nigel starts going out with Pandora, the only girl Adrian ever loved.

In school he joins a group called "The Good Samaritans" who do social work for old people. Adrian has to take care of Bert Baxter. At first Adrian and Bert have many problems with each other, but soon a real relationship develops.

After some time Adrian's parents split up and his mother leaves town with the neighbour Mr. Lucas while Adrian stays with his father. His father is very depressed and loses his job. Their income sinks and even the electricity is turned off. But instead of looking for a new job he prefers to do nothing.          

One day Adrian dares to wear read socks to school instead of black as usual. He. Pandora organises a Red-Sock-Revolution where everyone wears read socks, but the director sends them all home.

This event brings Adrian and Pandora together and he and Nigel reconcile.

The book goes on with repeating all the problems like spots, school, the division and so on.

But in the end of his diary entries his mother comes back to her family, his father finds a new job, he is in love with Pandora and even his new friend Bert Baxter marries.  Now life is worth living for Adrian.  

I wouldn't say that the book is autobiographical but there are some parallels between Adrian´s and Sue's live.

For instance both grow up in a working class family in Leicester.

Sue's works are sent to BBC and also Adrian sends his poems to the BBC but his aren't liked in contrast to Sue's.

Adrian Mole:    

       

·      Main character

·      writer of the diaries

·      13 years old

·      young adolescent boy living on estate in Leicester

·      British teenager

·      grows up in unusual circumstances

·      experiences problems of teenage life

·      has problems of existence

·      doesn't know where he belongs to

·      is looking for his own personality

·      can identify himself with being an intellectual, but nobody 

          admires his poems and knows that he is one - a good  

          statement to prove this is "None of the teachers at school 

          have noticed that I am an intellectual. They will be sorry,

          when I am famous"

·      by being an intellectual he can escape from his problems "If I

                              didn´t have my poetry  I would be a raving loonie by now"

                              (raving loonie = wild and mad person)

                          

Pandora: 

·      at first dates Nigel (his best friend)

·      New girl at Adrian's school



·      Falls in love with Adrian

·      Isn't like you would expect a 14-year-old girl  - she wants to oppose, 

·      to resist and is very rebellious

In Greek legend Pandora is the name of the first woman, whom the gods gave a box as a wedding present; out came all the problems and diseases, which are now in the world 

"Her name is Pandora, but she liked being called "Box"

-                     -   Maybe it shows that she wants to be different

-                     -   she wants to escape from the ordinary things

-                     -   isn't afraid of troubles

                      -   a good example is the "Red-Sock-Protest" they were         

                          all sent home by the director, but she doesn`t regret it

Bert Baxter:  

·    Dirty old man 

·    89 years

·    His house is in a disgusting state

·    Adrian takes care of him (The Good Samaritans)

·    You can observe the development of their relationship

·     Very important friend in Adrian's life

·       Maybe he is a kind of substitute for his father (who

           neglects him because of his own problems)

·       Marries an old woman (Queenie)

  Father: 

·       Loses his job

·       Is very depressed after the divorce

·       He lies around the whole day instead of doing some work and 

·       falls in self-pity

·       he finds a new girlfriend (Doreen Slater), but it's more a                 relationship to forget his wife than  out of love

·       neglects Adrian

Mother:

·       Leaves town with Mr.Lucas (the neighbour)

·       The only thing she does for Adrian is to write cards

·       Also neglects him

·       Thinks only of herself

Others: Dog, grandmother, Mr. Lucas, Barry Kent,  Nigel




Although there is no single dominating plot within this book, there are many themes that do continue throughout the story.

Divorce:

Is certainly a topic many teenagers have to deal with.

In Adrian's case his mother leaves town with the neighbour. So she doesn't separate only from his father but also from Adrian and that's the real problem. Now he would need his father but he is too depressed to take care of Adrian. So he has to stand the situation alone and loses both his mother and his father.

Being without a job:

After having lost his job Adrian's father doesn't know what to do. Normally people would look for a new job but he is too depressed and too lazy. Now they are on the dole but that´s not enough money for them. Even when the electricity is turned off his father doesn't react in any way. The problem is that he hasn't anybody who gives him courage and comforts him. He hasn´t got any support of the family

 Identity:

Adrian doesn't know where he belongs to like many teenagers as I have already mentioned before. Therefore he joins for instance "The Good Samaritans" and he flees in his own world being an intellectual. 

Rebellism:

Not only Adrian but also Pandora and many other kids try to oppose the rules and the normality in certain ways. E.g.: "The Red Sock Committee" - they didn't wear red socks because they looked so beautiful but because it wasn't normal and they couldn't accept that it was forbidden. They call themselves "Freedom fighter for the rights of the individual"

Bullying:

I would like to focus on the topic of bullying which I didn't mention before because Adrian writes only some days about this problem and it doesn't appear throughout the whole story.

Therefore an other character is very important, namely Barry Kent's:

-         likes to treat others badly and to hurt them

-         some teachers are afraid of him

-         is even banned from the youth club

-         gets always in big troubles (especially in school)

Barry Kent always treats Adrian very badly. Once Barry tells him that he will hurt him  very badly unless Adrian gives him 25 pence every day. But Adrian never has any spare money and his father pays his pocket money by cheque but Adrian has no other chance than to gibe Barry his protection money.

After having been seriously menaced at school he is forced to tell his father about everything.

His father wants to talk to Barry Kent and to get back all the menaces money. Barry just laughs about him and also the argument with Barry's father doesn't make sense.

Thursday may 21st

Barry Kent duffed me up in the cloakroom today. He hung me on one of the coathooks. He called me a "copper's nark" and other things too bad to write down. My grandma found out about the menacing (my father didn't want her to know on account of her diabetes). She listened to it all then she put her hat on, thinned her lips and went out. She was gone one hour and seven minutes, she came in, took her coat off, fluffed her hair out, took 27.18 $ from the anti-mugger belt round her waist. She said, "He won't bother you again, Adrian, but if he does, let me know". Then she got the tea ready. I bought her a box of diabetic chocolates from the chemist's as a token of my esteem.

 

Coathook - a piece of metal for hanging clothes on

Copper's nark - someone who gives information to the police

On account of - because of

To fluff out - to shake

Antimugger belt - a belt in which money can be hidden so that robbers cannot 

                               steal it

token of esteem - a sign of respect

Ego-boost -  Selbstbestätigung

I think it's very interesting that a grandmother has more effect on a teenager that a father on an other father. It's also very strange that Barry's father isn't willing to talk to his son or to do something else against it.  He just ignores the problem. As it seems Barry got his attitude towards hurting and bullying others from his father and that's the real problem. So he doesn't know that it isn't right when his father has the same opinion.

Adrian and his father seem to be weak because they aren't able to deal with the problem alone. They need grandmother who is an old woman with a strong personality. Maybe others see the conversation between grandmother and Barry and make fun of him because he is threatened by an old woman.  He gives the money back because he feels what it is liked to be hurt - now he is in Adrian's situation.

The person who is really weak is Barry Kent because he can only find ego-boost by hurting others.  

The diary takes place in a small working-class community in England. The majority of the story occurs in Adrian's hometown, at home, in school and at other locations around the community. The diary is told chronologically. The book can be realistic because it can happen anywhere. The reader is given the details of each day that Adrian experiences, no matter what goes on, from January 1st to April 3rd 16 months later. The point of view is very important because the reader only gets Adrian's side of the story. I think Adrian isn't able to express his feelings very well. He prefers to write about facts and events.

The book wasn't very interesting to read but very easy except of many British colloquial terms. It wasn't a problem to understand them because I could find out the meaning from the context.

At the beginning I hopped that there would be a climax but it didn't get more interesting. Maybe 13 or 14 year old teenagers can identify with Adrian and I think it's more written for this age group;  so it's more directed to the age of the msoin character.

For me it was boring to read because it is an endless moaning about ordinary problems that appear nearly in every book for teenagers and it wasn't a challenge to read and to understand the topics. At least it's a lovely book and I can imagine that younger are interested in this book.










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