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The Gathering
The Gathering
Nathanial Delaney, the main character in The Gathering, is new in the community of Cheshunt. No one else seems to sense the sinister atmosphere in Chesthunt, except Nathanial. With the haunted look in people's eyes and the subdued aura around the school, Nathanial thinks that moving to Cheshunt is ridiculous. Suffering the recent death of his father, he lives with his mother and is finding it difficult to relate to children his own age, and is very mature. Throughout his life he has been moved from town to town, and is tiring of this ruthless string of new starts. "New friends? I never had any old ones. We never stayed anywhere long enough. In fact, my grandmother was the closest thing I had to a best friend. Besides, I couldn't relate to kids my own age…"(pg3) Nathanial has always had trouble making new friends, and he feels as if his mother does not understand him. "But I never managed to figure out how you made friends with total strangers. Maybe that was why I did well academically. I had no social life to distract me." (pg16) In the beginning of the book he is angry at the world, and he feels as if everyone is against him. Towards the end, he has made peace with his life, and is relaxed and philosophical, viewing the world as an ally and not an enemy. One night, Nathanial stumbles upon a group of teenagers fighting evil in Cheshunt, referred to throughout the novel as ‘The Chain'
The development of character relationships in ‘The Gathering' is a slow process, with the relationships becoming more meaningful as the novel progresses. The style of writing used by Isobelle Carmody is elaborate and sophisticated, making the social interactions of each of the characters different and special. The three characters that Nathanial becomes closest to in the novel, Nissa Jerome, Danny Odin and Indian Mahoney, all share a personal experience with him that they have kept a secret for most of their lives. No one seems to sense the sinister atmosphere in Chesthunt, except Nathanial. It's the haunted look in people's eyes and the subdued aura around the school…

Indian Mahoney. One of the first people Nathanial meets in the novel is Indian Mahoney. "I looked over my shoulder to see a big guy with long dark hair drawn back into a pony tail… I thought it was a lot easier to bluff when you were six foot tall and built like the Terminator." (pg11-12)
On Nathanial's first day at his new school, Three North, Indian helps him escape the reputable bully Buddha, who is giving Nat a hard time in his first week. Indian engages in a conversation with Nathanial, on his first day, making him feel welcomed and at ease. Nathanial's relationship with Indian in the beginning of the novel is awkward, and strange. But when Nathanial joins a group of teenagers from the school, ‘Three North', to fight the evil encompassing Cheshunt, Indian and Nathanial form a close and meaningful relationship, progressing from acquaintances to friends. Indian shares one of his most personal secrets with Nathanial about how he feels as if it is his fault that his sister fell from a slippery dip when she was five and now has an almost meaningless life. Indian was meant to keep an eye on his sister Jenny but he was fighting a group of bullies instead of watching her and while he was fighting, Jenny fell off the slide and hit her head. "She was in a coma for a week, and when she woke up, she wasn't the same. She used to smile and laugh all the time, but now she doesn't smile or look at you. She just stares. It's as if I did kill her, but the body was left behind." (pg157 Since this horrible incident, Indian has vowed to himself that he should not fight and the pain that he receives is to punish him for what he did for his sister.

Danny Odin "Danny Odin was the school's pet mad dog. He was one of those legendary bad kids you know about from the first day in a new school. His name was forever being called over the PA system. He was like some sort of wild kid that had lived with the wolves all his life and was not sure how humans were supposed to act." (pg10-11) Danny is aggressive and fierce towards Nathanial after discovering him "…Snooping, spying on us!" (pg39) Danny views Nathanial as suspicious and sneaky, and calls him "Sherlock Holmes". Danny views Nathanial as a threat to the lifestyle he has come to live in. "We can't let him go. We'll have to get rid of him…Danny reached up his sleeve with a sick-making ease and slid out a flick knife. It was homemade and that made it seem more dangerous than a bought knife with a pearl handle. His knife looked lethal and business-like; not a knife for show"(pg40) Nathanial dubs Danny "crazy" and warily avoids him for the next few weeks. Danny is forced into accepting him when Nathanial joins The Chain. Danny and Nathanial's relationship dramatically improves after Nathanial assists Danny in escaping from a group of bullies from The Gathering. "You're okay Nathanial,' he said, and in spite of everything, I felt a burst of pride at his approval." (pg118) Danny and Nathanial's relationship develops from the most tension caused from any of the characters, to that of being best friends. Danny shares a personal experience with Nathanial about how not every "cop" is always on the right side, and why he does not trust them. "They thought I'd cave in and say anything they wanted. I started to realize that they didn't care who was driving the car about the time it must have taken for them to understand that I wasn't going to lie. So they sicced the dog on me. I punched it away, so they held me down, belted me with their sticks and then they held me while the dog attacked me…"(pg120)

Nissa Jerome "She sat by the window and stared out. No one spoke to her or sat next to her but she seemed not to care. She looked as if her thoughts were a million miles away. In spite of the weird haircut and sloppy uniform, she had the face that you couldn't help but look at. She reminded me of a cat, but not a house cat. Some kind of exotic wildcat with bright blue eyes that would scratch your eyes out if you went near it…" Nissa Jerome is an unpredictable character, and with her cobalt eyes and quick wit, she is a mystery to Nathanial. "I don't have the time to keep setting special assignments for her because she finishes other work too quickly. She should be made to work at the pace of other students."(pg17) A teacher whines about Nissa's extraordinary intelligence. Nissa is a friendly person beneath her rough appearance. She is accepting, courageous and loyal, and would take a secret to the grave rather than betray someone who has earned her trust. Nissa views Nathanial as a friend throughout the novel, and someone who is a constant in her ever-changing world. Nissa is the third and final member of the chain to share a secret with Nathanial. "He told me he hadn't been coming to see my mother. That he loved me. …My mother was always the center of the universe to everybody. People treated me the way they did because of her. I was just this smart, ugly kid they had to put up with… (pg181) Nathanial is attracted to Nissa, and begins to fall in love with her about halfway through the text. It is hard to tell if Nissa feels the same way about Nathanial as the book is written from Nathanial's point of view, but from the few signs that are in the novel, you can grasp that she feels the same way. "Nissa's eyes were so blue; as deep and beautiful as the sky on the most perfect summer day as she leaned forward slowly and pressed her lips on mine."(pg228)

Seth Paul. Seth is shy and reserved, and Nathanial and Seth are only acquaintances until the book reaches the climax. When Nathanial first meets Seth, he views him as a perfect version of his perfect policeman father. "Seth Paul was one of those golden boys who could do no wrong. He was a brain, he looked like one of those perfect guys off Coke ads and both kids and teachers liked him." (pg10) "…Seth Paul was even more perfect close up than at a distance. He was built like an athlete, all toned muscle and fine lines. His eyelashes were long and dark as black as the black hair plastered to his head. His eyes were soft gray. Even his teeth were white and perfectly straight.(pg80-81) Seth dose not pay much attention to Nathanial at school, but when they actually meet face to face, Seth shakes Nathanial's hand, as a gesture of friendship. "Seth wiped his hand and extended it. I put my own into it, feeling self-conscious. It was warm and firm, It would be. Seth Paul's hands would never swear or feel like dead fish…" (pg81) Nathanial soon discovers that looks can be deceiving, and that despite Seth's perfect appearance he was not as Nathanial believed, perfect. "…I suddenly understood why he hadn't offered the Coke to anyone else. It was whisky or rum or some other strong alcohol and perfect Seth Paul was high as a kite…" (pg138) Nathanial views Seth with pity after the day at the beach, and wonders how and why he thought he was so perfect. Nathanial thinks that he has to discover "what was eating away at Seth before it destroyed him."(pg144) Nathanial's role in the chain is to bind the group together, making sure they worked as a team, to defeat the evil. Nathanials loyalty to Seth's friendship is shown in the climax, where the chain is about to fall and Nathanial ‘saves the day'. "Seth lifted his head slowly and I held out my spare hand towards him. ‘Seth you're one of us. You're part of the Chain forever, Lallie said. No matter what. Till death do us part…' I laughed at the incongruous phrase…"(pg225)

Lallie Lallie plays a minor role in the Gathering and as a result Nathanial and Lallie do not have much time to ‘get-to-know' each other. "A girl from one of the lower forms came up to me, her hair as white blonde and fine as dandelion fluff. There was a vacant look in her face that told me there was something wrong with her, and pity stopped me shying away…(pg10) The pale girl with the flyaway mop of white blonde hair stepped out of the shadows on to the step beside Nissa.(pg43)" When Nathanial first talks to Lallie, he thinks she is bizarre and surreal. He views her as mysterious and strange, and thinks that she can read his thoughts. "I looked at Lallie and found her watching me, a faint mischievous smile on her lips, exactly as if she knew what I was thinking."(pg43) Nathanial is not sure whether to believe what Lallie tells him about the evil encompassing Cheshunt or not. " ‘You think she's some kind of basket base.' ‘I don't know what to believe,' I admitted." (pg79) Nathanial grows to believe and trust Lallie as family as the book progresses. When Lallie falls into a coma, Nathanial is genuinely concerned for her safety. In the book, it is impossible to tell whether Lallie is a human or just an illusion that only members of the chain can see. "Whatever Lallie was, she was not like us. She had come to heal an old wrong, and now that was done, she was gone."(pg263) Towards the end of the book, after the healing, Lallie is still in the coma and mysteriously disappears from her hospital bed." ‘The nurse said she had disappeared. The police have registered her as a missing person...' "(pg263) Lallie was not a part of the Chain. Her role in The Gathering was to guide Seth, Nissa, Indian, Danny and Nathanial in their quest to vanquish evil.

In conclusion, relationships formed by Nathanial progressed throughout the novel. The longer the Characters worked as a team to triumph over evil, the more their friendship grew stronger. Obstacles facing each of the members relationships were overcame, to form a strong and lasting bond.

Showing the progression of these characters relationships.

In conclusion ‘The Gathering' is certainly more that just a good story. It has successfully compromised between fantasy and realism to give a very realistic view into the world of power and corruption. Its characters are very much believable because of the complexity of them. With an exceptional climax and a very satisfactory resolution ‘ The Gathering' is fantastic novel, which clearly indicates that a ‘good novel does more that just tell a good story'.

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