Rule of the Bone Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Nov 17th, 2019


Every teenager wants to be independent in their life. Most of them try to shun any influence from their parents and start to associate with their peers. The overrunning theme in this book is that of total independence. Banks uses the character Chappie (or Bone) as the protagonist in the story. He helps to develop this theme through his interesting adventures.

The life of Chappie can be divided into three major phases. The first phase is when Chappie is angry with the treatment he gets from his parents and leaves home. He goes to live with Russ. The second phase is when he meets with I-Man. The last phase is when he is in Jamaica. This paper shall analyze the character of Chappie/Bone and show how he is a dynamic character.

Analysis of the Character Chappie/Bone

Chappie represents the modern youth. He particularly represents how they are likely to react if faced with the same circumstances that Chappie was facing. The story starts with Chappie’s rebellion against his parents. He starts to steal petty things from the house in order to get money to buy drugs since he has become addicted to them.

He says, “I’d about given up on finding something in the house that I could rob…” (Banks 5). He goes to live with Russ, one of his friends. He says concerning Russ that, “I had this very good friend Russ whose mum kicked him out in the spring…” (Banks 7). Chappie joins his friend and they continue living together.

The initial reaction by the reader towards Chappie is pity mixed with anger. One cannot help but sympathize with Chappie due to the circumstances he is facing. However, one also gets angry at him because of the decision he takes since it is not likely to be the solution for his misfortunes. As he lives with Russ, Chappie depends entirely on him for advice and guidance on how to live.

While the reader is still angry with Chappie because of the decision he has made, Banks creates a twist in the events that follow. The reader starts to see Chappie in a different way. Chappie is depicted as a person who is unhappy with the kind of life he is living. He desires to leave this kind of life and do something else that is constructive. This shows that Chappie is not as bad as the reader thought. He is depicted as someone with good intentions. His only problem is total dependence on his friend Russ.

However, the relationship with Russ is short lived because they separate after some time. The process of separation starts when Bone notices a change in their relationship. He recognizes that he does not have to continue depending on Russ. He also realizes that he is the one who makes most of the decisions, unlike in the past when Russ used to be the decision maker.

When he discovers that he is no longer leading in decision making in their adventures, Russ decides to end his friendship with Bone. At this point, Bone is very disappointed and finds life very difficult. He says, “Because up to then for me living was the same as Running through hell with a gasoline suit on” (Banks 152). He looks for another person who can allow him to lead their friendship.

After breaking off from Russ, Bone’s independence starts to increase. He has learnt to live independently. Later, he meets with I-Man, and they spend some time together. Their relationship is different from the relationship that Bone had with Russ. Instead of being totally dependent on I-Man, Bone and I-Man have a symbiotic relationship.

Each of them contributes something to their relationship, and none feels oppressed. Bone is happy to be in this kind of relationship since he feels like an equal in the relationship, unlike in the past relationship with Russ where he was dependent on him. It is around this time that he starts to call himself ‘Bone’, signifying his independence. His life at this point is relatively peaceful.

How Chappie/Bone is a dynamic character

At some point in his life, he spends some time with I-Man in the school bus. It is this incident that transforms his life totally. He realizes that he can do things alone. He learns that his friends are not supposed to control. Instead, they should be people he can talk to, but he should make decisions about his life.

Banks uses the relationship between Bone and I-Man to show how Bone develops from being dependent on friends to being an independent person. Bone learns this through asking I-Man questions. I-Man is able to guide him on how to live independently, since he has been independent for a long time in his life.

Another twist that occurs in Bone’s life is when he starts to view drugs differently. When Bone was living with Russ, he used to take a lot of drugs, particularly marijuana. This is evident in Bone’s words when he says that, “It is amazing how fast good weed goes when you’ve got the money to buy it…” (Banks 8).

However, when he starts living with I-man, this changes. He is able to take this drug in moderation and during specific times, not always. This change of attitude is also an aspect that depicts that he has become independent. He is no longer addicted to this drug but smokes it only as a way of relaxation. His addiction to this drug seems to end when their friendship with Russ is terminated.

Bone lives a totally independent life once he starts living in Jamaica. He is able to adapt to life there. He has grown so independent that he is able to go against what people tell him to do and stand firm with his decisions. His father is very happy to meet him as depicted in the following quote:

“But he grinned, he actually looked happy to see me and he said, lemme see you! Lemme see what you look like, for Christ sake!” (Banks 283).

However, Bone does not allow people, including his father, to influence him to make bad decisions. He is aware that he has a lot of independence but does not abuse it. His father also enjoys this kind of independence and lives in a manner that most people would want to live.

He does anything he wants and does not mind what people think or say about him. Despite living this manner of life, his life cannot be described as a good life. He is immoral and addicted to drugs. Bone’s independence is most evident in this situation. He chooses not to live like his father. Although he has an opportunity to live luxuriously, he chooses to live a humble life. He believes that a lot of independence is not good for a person and can cause one to live a corrupted life. He does not want to end up like his father.

While still in Jamaica, Bone decides to go back to America. The main reason why he has decided to return to America is because he desires to live a good life. He is mature and wise enough to understand that, the kind of life found in Jamaica is not what he wants. If he had gone to Jamaica earlier on in the story, he would have loved to live there.

However, he has grown in all aspects of his life and understands the futility of such a life. On the contrary, his friend Russ moves to Jamaica. It is possible that since he has not experienced what Bone has experienced since they parted ways, he might not be able to make good decisions in Jamaica.

The time that Bone spends in Jamaica becomes the defining moment of his life. During this period, he grows from a child who loved to smoke marijuana to an adult who understands what is truly important in life. He discovers that he has a life ahead of him and has to do something to improve the quality of this life.

One of the dramatic changes that Bone makes in his life is when he informs Russ of his decision to leave Jamaica. He intends to go back to school. At first, Russ is shocked and fails to believe this. Bone has discovered the value of education and that he needs it to live a normal life, whereas Russ is still thinking like a teenager. He believes that he has to enjoy life to the fullest and that having fun is the most important thing. Bone, however, is a changed person and is ready to reform his life.


In conclusion, it is worth noting that Chappie’s character changes as the story progresses. He changes from being a delinquent youth and by the end of the story, he is a reformed person. He is also able to adapt to any situation he finds himself in. The book ends on a positive note.

Works Cited

Banks, Russel. Rule of the Bone, New York: Harper Perennial, 1996. Print.

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