First of all, this following episode reminds me a bit of Steve Ersinghaus’ piece, Stoning Field, in the interaction of boys and the underlying theme of war:
Here was a bent glade I knew from when us village kids used to fight war games in the woods. Pretty seriously we took it, with prisoners of war, cease-fires, flags one side had to steal (footy socks on a stick), and rules of combat that were half tag, half judo. More sophisticated than those Passchendaeles back on the Malvern road, anyhow. When field marshals picked their men I was snapped up ’cause I was an ace dodger and tree climber. Those war games were ace. Sport at school isn’t the same. Sport doesn’t let you be someone you’re not. War games’re extinct now. Us lot were the last ones. (p. 235)
Jason has escaped through the woods after nearly walking right into a pelting war of bullies out on the road. He is one of those who has been picked on and bullied and in this learning of dealing with others, he is brought into another war raging in his village: against the village council who would build permanent gypsy housing right outside of his village. Most are naturally against the move, with the usual fear and lies that come with outsiders moving into one’s home territory.
I do like this gradual change coming about in Jason, watching him face up to and overcome or learn to handle the way the world works.