Questions About On The Sidewalk Bleeding, by Evan Hunter

  1. Who is the protagonist? In this story, a young man Andy is the protagonist. He was sixteen, and wore a purple jacket with the word Royals on the back, which was a gang Andy was part of. Andy wasn’t just a Royal, though. He had a girlfriend, named Laura, whom he loved, but he questioned how much she loved and cared about him. He had hope for a bright future, to move to a nicer place, get married to Laura, and have kids. Andy was then stabbed, just because he was wearing a jacket that said the word Royals. He used to have pride, or hubris, with having the title of Royal, but as he lay on the sidewalk, he wasn’t so proud. As Andy lay dying, though at first he didn’t think it was death coming to him, there were many thoughts going through his head. He thought of Laura, and thinking of her stopped the pain a bit. Many people came and went, but none of them helped Andy. Some didn’t realize he needed help, but one group of people didn’t help him for fear of being caught by the Guardians, who were the rival gang of the Royals. Andy was a tragic hero, because he is the character who we want to have all the success in the world, but he ends up dying very young, not fulfilling any of his dreams. The rain that washed over him was kind of like Baptism, because he was going through a change of heart, realizing he should have been focusing more on “Andy”, than “Royal”.
  2. What is/are the conflict(s)? First of all, in this story I would say there are two types of conflicts: Man vs. Man and Man vs. Self. The Royals and the Guardians were rivals and fought often, making this partly a Man vs. Man story. I doubt that Andy was the only one out of the two gangs to get stabbed by the other. maybe he even stabbed a few people himself. Andy was stabbed by a Guardian and lay, dying. He was passed first by a drunk man who didn’t know Andy was dying. He just thought that Andy was drunk as well, and threatened to call the cops (who could have helped Andy), but instead left him lying there, and said the words “This time you get off easy”. A couple came by, and they knew he was hurt, but left out of fear of being found out by the Guardians. This made Freddie and Angela bystanders. A lady came to the alley, but didn’t see Andy at all. She was more focused on “shopping” at the trash cans. As Andy was dying, he had many, many thoughts, and this is where the Man vs Self comes in to play. He had an existential crisis as he was dying. He didn’t really know who he was until he realized that being a “Royal” really didn’t matter overall. He decided to be Andy when he died, not a Royal. He then decided to take off his jacket, further symbolizing this.
  3. The conflict is developed through the use of names that apply to the boy: Andy and a Royal. Skim the story to note how the names appear in critical places. What do these names represent? Andy is the name of the boy, but many who saw him thought of him only as a Royal (part of the gang called the Royals). Andy is his identity, and at the end of his life he knows that Andy is who he wants to be. While his identity is Andy, his title is “Royal”. In the end, “Royals” and “Guardians” were just meaningless titles given to people who wanted to be tough and fight people from opposite gangs. He could not speak, dying on the sidewalk, but he screamed silently that he was Andy. He used to be proud to be a Royal, but now he wasn’t so proud. The Guardians would just think that a Royal died, but it was actually a sixteen year old kid named Andy who died. To them, he was a Royal, not Andy.
  4. What effect does Andy’s jacket have on the people who find him in the alley? Since Andy’s jacket said Royals, it had an impact on some people that found him. The drunk man didn’t even notice that Andy was a Royal, because he was so drunk. Freddie and Angela noticed that Andy was a Royal, and were immediately struck by fear. They didn’t help Andy, who was basically just a Royal to them because of his jacket, because the Guardians could find out and harm them. Andy didn’t want people see him as a Royal, so he decided take off his jacket, to separate Andy from the label of “Royal” the but the cop that came later still saw him as a Royal, unfortunately.
  5. What are the reasons why these people do not help Andy? The drunk man didn’t help Andy because he just thought Andy was drunk, not hurt. Freddie and Angela Didn’t help Andy because they were afraid that the Guardians would find out if they helped Andy. The old lady that came in to the alley didn’t help Andy because she didn’t know he was even there. This lady has hubris, or pride, even in wearing trash like she’s royalty. Ironically, she noticed the trash but didn’t even notice Andy, a human being.
  6. At what point does Andy realize he is dying? Andy realizes he’s dying at a terrible moment: when he’s all alone, with the trash in an alley. There was no one there, he was very weak, and all he wanted was to be heard, but he couldn’t even make any noise. At this point, he knew he had little time left to live. If I were Andy and I realized this, I would just want it to be over with.
  7. What does Andy do with the last of his strength? How is this important to the theme and to the outcome of the conflict? With his last strength Andy attempted to take off his jacket to be Andy when he died, and not have the pointless, overrated title of Royal. The theme of this story is existential crisis: what does it mean? Andy realizes the insignificance of the label of “Royal” and seeks to separate himself from it, although in the end, though he may have felt like he separated himself from it, he was still most likely seen as a Royal after death.
  8. What is the climax or turning point? Sketch a Plot Diagram. At the climax of the story, Andy realizes that he wants to be Andy and not a Royal, and die that way. His hubris as a Royal blinded his ability to be Andy, the sixteen year old boy with a bright future. This is important to the theme, existential crisis, because Andy realizes that the “Royals” gang was pointless, but “Andy” is so meaningful: it’s who he is and who he should strive to be. You can see my plot diagram here: screen-shot-2016-12-05-at-10-00-05-am
  9. The cop’s reaction is that Andy is a Royal. Unfortunately, he doesn’t even care that Andy has a name, he sees only a Royal. Perhaps this relates to the theme because the cop doesn’t see the boy named Andy, which means something, he saw a Royal, and that title is absurd and meaningless. In choosing to become a Royal, Andy kind of gave up part of his identity as a boy named Andy, and that is a tragedy.
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