2. Paul Carty
Kevin Samspon’s Awaydays is a story about football violence, but just as much a story about initiation, and I want to demonstrate this with my paper.
“By initiation we mean that a character, in the course of the story, learns something
that he did not know before, and that what he learns is already known to, and
shared by, the larger group of the world. […] the goal is participation in a larger
circle and wider grouping.”
In this paper I will introduce the main protagonist Paul Carty in Kevin Sampson’s novel Awaydays, do a characterization of him and show how he - in the course of the story - becomes an adult.
From early childhood two driving forces are apparent in his character: fear and hatred. They make Paul join the hooligan scene where he finds an outlet for his pent-up feelings in violence and sex. But only when he learns to cope with his emotions in another way, can he really find some meaning in his life.
2 Paul Carty
The story of Awaydays takes place in the period from 18th November, 1979 to 30th December, 1979 in Tranmere near Liverpool but there are lots of flashbacks to explain why Paul Carty from Birkenhead has gradually slipped into the local hooligan scene. This phase is one stage in Paul’s initiation into adulthood and bears some very revealing experiences for the nineteen-year-old boy. Four persons play an important part in the forming of his character and his behaviour.
Paul was born in 1960 to a Liverpool-Irish family and has inherited his mother’s accent, confidence, mordant wit, but also her violence; Paul has a scar above his left upper lip from one of her rings when she hit him. His mother was the one who made sure that her children knew discipline and gave them some orientation in life. So when he learns that she is going to die, he looks for “a new outlet, a way of expressing [himself]” and joins The Pack, a group of hooligans. In the face of death he feels helpless and abandoned, he no longer has anything in common with “the boys” at school, as he condescendingly calls them. Because it is difficult for him to express his emotions, he wants “rude action”. He realizes that the life his parents have mapped out for him is not what he really wants. His mother’s death on 25th November, 1978 marks a drastic change in his life. Before, he led the life of an average teenager, but the confrontation with death and mortality makes Paul think about himself and what he wants. “Where’s my life gone? Where’s it going?” are the questions he asks himself. Consequently, he gets out of school and starts working at The Inland Revenue, PAYE Division, Birkenhead Office to have money of his own. This way he is able to support himself and he is no longer depending on his peaceful, meek and quiet father to whom he has never felt very close. There is a conflicting relationship between Paul and his father. Although there never were greater difficulties, Paul had to fight for his parents’ attention since he was a little boy. Nevertheless Paul is thinking of his father’s well-being and is happy when he sometimes does go out to enjoy himself. He also wants to please him – be “a good son”, e.g. going to the memorial service for his mother even when he does not really want to and is very happy when his Dad finally calls him “son”. But Paul also is very uneasy in his father’s company, often does not know what he could say to him, does not feel at ease when they have bodily contact and even has vision of his father strangling him. It is a problem for Paul that in his early teens he considered his father to be a loser, lacking ambition for even the smallest things, and that he thinks that he does not like him very much. That is why he is more curious than afraid when he finds him one morning in bed and thinks that he has died. Nevertheless Paul does not feel good about shutting his Dad out of his life and thinks about how he can change their relationship for the better.
 Angela Schmidt, The Invention of Initiation - Ein amerikanisches Genre unter dem Aspekt der Geschlechterdifferenzierung (Müchen: Akademischer Verlag München, 1996), p. 42.
 Kevin Sampson, Awaydays (London: Vintage, 1999), p.54.
 Ibid. p.55.
 Ibid. p.54.
 Ibid. p.19.
 Ibid. p.52.
 Ibid. p.152.