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Written by Jody Perry
"Well, Sam," Tom whispered, "I don't know nothin' about children, but I do know enough not to beat 'em and make 'em that scared."
When Tom catches Willie threatening Sammy the dog outside, Willie is terrified of the impending punishment and seeing a big stick in Tom's upraised arm assumes he is in for a beating. Tom actually throws the stick for Sammy to fetch but sees how terrified the boy is and realizes he has been so badly beaten in the past that he is frightened to do anything for fear of punishment. This really shapes the way in which Tom treats Willie, being a gentle but firm father figure and using kind words instead of brutal physical punishment to bring his confidence up. The way Willie was treated at home is also an indicator to Tom that when Willie has returned to his mother in London and does not maintain contact, something must be gravely wrong.
Miss Thorne watched him grow visibly older. His shoulders were pushed up by his neck and his stomach caved in. He looked cold and miserable and bad tempered.
Miss Thorne asks Willie to play the role of Eberneezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" and marvels at the way in which Willie does not just act the part but becomes the old man. Willie looks inward to put himself in the shoes of an old tramp who lived near London Underground who was hunched and dragged his feet. He also used his own experiences of hunger to help him remember how it felt to not be able to stand straight from hunger pain. His voice becomes harsh and mean but rather than the words being read from a script they seem to be coming from his soul. William has an incredible gift for acting that surprises him and also Zach who is also a little envious of his friends talent.
He felt as though he was a different person lying there in the dark. He was no longer Willie. It was as if he had said goodbye to an old part of himself. Neither was he two separate people.He was Will inside and out.
Willis's mother has savagely beaten him and locked him in the dark. Since living in Little Weirwold he rarely associated the confident young lad he had become with the a used and frightened not he used to be. Even the name Willie no longer felt like his own, knowing himself now as Will. The abuses of his mother remained the same but the child she was beating was very different and Will no longer felt like she did what she did out of love; he knew it was wrong and wanted to return to his life with Tom and leave Willie as far behind geographically as he was in Will's own mind.
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Zach represents all of the things William wishes to be. He truly admires his zest for life and appreciates his friendship. William cherishes Zach's ability to live life large and is devastated when he dies.