Part of your essay should focus on Kyle’s character. Kyle is the main character in“Washdays” by Simon Neal. His mother is a secondary character, while the teacher, the librarian, the shopkeeper, and the medical secretary are episodic characters. In what follows, we will look at Kyle and his mother and give you some points for their characterisation.


Kyle is the protagonist of the film, the character that the camera follows throughout most of the film.

His outer characterisation presents him as a young, typical-looking British boy, who is probably about 11 years old. He is blond-haired with light eyes and he is mostly shown wearing his school uniform. Kyle is from a single-parent family; he lives with his mother in Wandsworth, London.

Inner characterisation

Kyle’s inner characterisation is conveyed through the way he acts, through his attitude towards his mother and his bedwetting problem.

From the beginning, we see that Kyle does not like that his mother is making him wash his bed sheets. When he leaves for school he does not even say goodbye to her. When Kyle reaches school, his attitude suggests that he is sorry for being late and for getting the teacher’s attention.

Furthermore, the teacher’s comment about Kyle ‘being abducted by aliens’ suggests that Kyle is frequently late and invents excuses.

The next time when Kyle wets his bed his facial expression suggests that he feels very embarrassed. As he washes his sheets again, her mother compares him with his absent father. This probably makes Kyle feel even worse, as his mother clearly doesn’t think much of his father.


The mother

The mother is a secondary character in the short story, but she is relevant for parental attitudes to shameful problems and for the way her attitude affects Kyle.

Her outer characterisation presents her as a single mother, trying to raise Kyle on her own. She might be a stay-at-home mother, as she is in the house when Kyle returns from school. It is evident from their home that she does not have a lot of money.

Inner characterisation

Her inner characterisation suggests that she is frustrated and upset with Kyle’s father whom she calls ‘you-know-who’ and whom she presents to Kyle as a bad person.

Furthermore, she does not know how to handle Kyle’s problem. Although Kyle’s bedwetting problem is clearly involuntary (he does not do it intentionally, and he cannot avoid it), she treats it as if it is something that can be avoided and as if it is Kyle’s fault. This is indicated by the fact that she tells Kyle that washing his bed sheets is about assuming responsibility. In other words, she associates Kyle’s bedwetting with irresponsibility. However, she believes that making him wash his sheets is for his own good and that she is acting with his best interests at heart.


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