In ‘Hide and Seek’, the boy is terribly competitive, he almost treats the game like a military campaign; taking the game very seriously and is trying his best to stay hidden from the other children. This character is probably more suited to the situation that the boy in ‘Leaving School’ finds himself as he evidently enjoys games of strategy. He is in fact so serious about this game, that he withstands the ‘cold floor’ of the tool shed and tries his best not to ‘sneeze’.
Throughout the poem he is acutely aware of his physical discomfort and sensitivity which contrasts with his lack of emotional sensitivity, however in ‘Leaving School’ the reader’s attention is focused on the boy’s emotional discomfort. In ‘Hide and Seek’, he former tries to outwit the other children and believes that they will think him remarkably clever, when in reality they are laughing at him. Because he fails to realise this, he is in truth over estimating his own capabilities and under estimating theirs.Order now
The reader is able to empathise in part with the other children as the boy is portrayed as insensitive and over confident. Conversely the boy in ‘Leaving School’ lacks confidence, he has no strategic plan , he was told ‘to think of the timetable as a game of ‘Battleships’ which involves deciphering codes, he is however found wandering aimlessly ‘upstairs’ in the ‘wrong shoes’ unable to adhere to the regimented existence.
He understands that he isn’t suited to this newly adopted lifestyle and the reader may infer that because he is more sensitive to his own inadequacies he is consequently more sensitive to his own predicament, unlike the boy in ‘Hide and Seek’. He ‘could only read certain things’ and he ‘didn’t like the work’, which implies he couldn’t actually do the work. This strongly implies that he wasn’t one of the more academic students. Unlike the boy in ‘Hide and Seek’ who refuses to give up, he is aware that he may be inept and has given up doing most tasks.
He realises that the teacher thinks he is absent minded from quite early on in the poem as she is constantly chastising and publicly humiliating him for not doing things properly. That he is further alienated and traumatised is defined in his inability to carry out the simplest of tasks such as brushing his teeth or getting ready for bed. The boy in ‘Leaving School’ says he ‘wasn’t listening’, suggesting to the reader that he doesn’t fit in. In ‘Hide and Seek the boy is also not listening but in the sense that he is unable to interpret ‘Their words and laughter’ for what it actually represents.
The boy in ‘ Leaving School’ almost accepts the daily humiliation of having his name read out as routine, the feelings of alienation are a constant part of his life. For the boy in ‘Hide and Seek’ the realisation that he is not accepted by the others comes in the moment that he leaves the shed and finds that ‘Nothing stirs’ they have all long since gone and left him alone, unwittingly playing the game that he was never really a part of. Both boys are hiding, one literally and the other by retreating into his own world where he doesn’t listen and daydreams about the day he leaves school.
He realises he doesn’t fit in while the boy in hide and seek does want to be there even though he’s not wanted initially. He can’t see that the others don’t like him and is therefore deluding himself. At the end of both poems the reader is left with bad feelings. In ‘Hide and Seek’ the feeling of something sinister dominates as even nature reflects his emotions ‘The bushes hold their breath’ in suspense and the garden has darkened as has his optimistic mood.
It is an emotional milestone for the character as he comes to realise that perhaps his own childish perception of being central to the world was not reality. The reader is left with a question and it is assumed that the boy is left with many. In ‘Leaving school’ the reader is left with an enigmatic line as the boy seemingly either retreats into his own world where in his mind’s eye he enacts the day he leaves school or he is possibly recounting what had actually happened to him as he was on his way home. In both poems the reader is left to question the outcome.