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Only Ten by Allan Baillie

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Only Ten

Have you ever felt judged? Afraid? Alone?

In the short story, Only Ten by Allan Baillie plot and dialogue have been used to make the reader respond by using carefully selected emotive dialogue to portray the main character’s unfortunate circumstances.

To help you understand the story better, I’m going to quickly summarise it for you.

Hussein is a new kid at school, he’s quiet and keeps things to himself. The students in this story even say that he is “a bit dark, sounded funny, looked at us as if he was going to have us beheaded and he was being as secretive as a pet rock.” He even comes off as vein because of his mysterious and odd personality. Hussein also called Huss or Horse towards the end of the story didn’t really have many friends, let’s be honest he had none he was a loner so of course from the outside he seemed quite boring and weak but shows his strength both physical and mental when Bruce the “bully”, which I wouldn’t call him a bully since he was just a teaser for the first half of this story, when Bruce hits him with a ruler. I admit it sounds stupid but stay with me, everyone flinches when they might get hit by something it’s human instinct, but Hussein didn’t flinch he didn’t move a muscle, for someone who seems so weak is so strong? This makes you ask yourself the question, what happened to him? Which is later revealed in the story that he is a victim of a war-torn country with shrapnel scars and bullet wounds to prove it.

Plot has been used in this story to string along multiple scenes of conflict such as the one at the beginning of the story when Bruce throws a ruler at Hussein, but he was unaffected as told in this quote “The ruler struck The Shah on the collarbone with a dull whack and clattered to the ground. Bruce stared at The Shah in alarm just standing there, panting, “I’m a soldier,” The Shah said and walked away.”

About half way through the story Pearl’s younger sister Suzy gets hit by a truck even though it was very unfortunate it brought them all together, because when Pearl came back to school “The Shah walked up to her, looked at her and squeezed her arm. He nodded and led her away. All this without a single word.” This relates to the response by him knowing what to do when something in this case traumatic has happened, due to his circumstances growing up in a country of war.

Dialogue has been used to give each character personality and characteristics for instance Hussein doesn’t talk much and when he does his sentences end sharp and short sometimes eerily sentences like when he was talking to the teacher Miss Ryan and he mentioned windows she asked, “What’s wrong with them?” and he replied with,” They can see in here.” That’s a little weird, so is he afraid?

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