Chappie “Bone” Dorset: The Anti-hero

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Exploring Chappie, the protagonist, and his life as an anti-hero

A hero is typically admired for their integrity, strengths, and ability to do good. However, Chappie is admired for his weaknesses. Though he is not an ill-mannered teenager, he is definitely sitting on the fence, or walking the line of criminal activity at the age of fourteen. Chappie’s father left him when he was very young, and his mother eventually remarried. It is hinted early on in the novel that Ken, Chappie’s stepfather molested him when he was younger. This initial loss of innocence is what propelled him into a world of chaos and criminal activity.

At the beginning of the novel, Chappie seems to be a menacing teenager with a drug problem. After stealing his grandmother’s coin collection to finance his drug habit, he is confronted by Ken and his mother. This leads to him running away without bravely facing the consequences. His need to run away from home reveals his anti-hero weakness and lack of direction. The habit of running away from problems instead of facing them plays out again at times throughout the story. Chappie is quite clueless when trying to come up with a way to take care of himself and ends up “dependent on Russ” (Banks 57). Chappie’s decision to depend on Russ for shelter and an endless supply of marijuana thrusts him into another undesirable situation.

He lives in constant fear of the violent bikers that Russ has for roommates. This fear and tendency to betray those he is closest too rears its ugly head again when he protects himself by revealing the truth about the stolen electronics to the bikers. At this point in the story, Chappie is still trying to make his way and find his identity. His betrayal of his then best friend Russ can be attributed to his lack of loyalty and self-respect. However, this is not the only time Chappie shows a lack of loyalty to Russ. When Russ shows up in Jamaica, Chappie chooses to duck “down behind the fat lady selling the oranges and peek out under her table at him” (Banks 382). Russ was there for Chappie when he needed a place to crash, but Chappie once again shows his anti-hero qualities here even after all that he has learned in the past year.

Chappie also shows this anti-hero quality with I-Man when he catches him having sex with Evening Star. He tells his father about it, but he knew “it was wrong and [Chappie] knew it as soon as [he] did it” (Banks 301). I-Man was someone that Chappie considered one of his best friends and at that time the most important adult in his life yet he still chose betrayal.

One still likes Chappie and cheers him on because his life started so sad and had continued to bring some seriously devastating situations. Even though Chappie has displayed some anti-hero qualities throughout the past year, he still shows growth much like a hero would. He has learned to love and respect a few people. Oddly enough it is not those that one would expect him to choose to love. Chappie “saw clearly for the first time that loving Sister Rose and I-man and even Bruce had left [him] with riches that [he] could draw on for the rest of his life” (Banks 384). Perhaps these few people he has found within himself to love showed him qualities that he will try to improve in himself. The anti-hero in him has somehow met a piece of the hidden hero.

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