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Explore the significance of growing up in this extract.

Remember to include in your answer detailed analysis of the

way that Hornby shapes meaning.
Hornby begins the extract describing the feelings he has towards
breakups at his current age. He appears to be talking to a recent ex of his
telling her that they are now too old for their break up to have made
either one of them miserable. This shows the audience that he is now
mature enough to know how to handle break-ups, and allows him to
compare that attitude with how he handled the same situations as a child.
The main emotions stereotypically associated with a split-up would be
melancholy and grief; when discussing him feeling these emotions as a
child, the author tells us how they really meant something back then an
indication to the reader that unhappiness has become a norm for him, and
is no longer an emotion only to be felt in times of distress. This indicates
to us that in growing up, his rose-tinted view on the world has gone, and
there is a lot more sorrow in life than he previously thought. Furthermore,
he emphasises this point by using a simile to compare this depression
with a cold. As a child with a cold we would be off school, being cared
for by a parent and getting sympathy, whereas as an adult it is simply
something that everyone has and it just has to be dealt with.
When looking back on his favourite childhood pastime of only allowing
himself to play on park items if he could find a danger in their use, he
recognises what I later understood to be irony. This shows the reader
that as an infant he was unaware of the ironic nature of his acts but as he
has matured he has gained perspective and is able to look back and
realise this.
Another indication to his growing up and the changes that avail comes
when he begins to notice girls more; he describes them as one moment
they werent thereand the next you couldnt miss them thus inferring
how fast he changed both mentally and biologically as he hit puberty and
began to develop an interest in the opposite sex. Moreover, this fast
change left him and his peers confused when it came to these feelings
they didnt know what they wanted from the girls. By using a plural
Hornby indicated that the puberty process was one approached with
friends rather than family (of whom he would most likely approach with
any problems as an adult) as it was an awkward subject matter, again
inferring his uncertainty at that point in his life.
This ineptitude is brought to life in an anecdote which makes the reader
feel more personal. He tells us of his first relationship with a girl called
Alison Ashworth of whom he experienced his first kiss. He asks What did I
think I was doing? and What did she think she was doing? using lots of
rhetorical questions when reflecting on this event showing his

embarrassment as he is almost looking back in shame or disconcertion,

trying to justify his action to himself.
We then get brought onto a later encounter with girls, at which we can tell
he has had some time to develop his thought on girls and hone in his
emotions towards them with his sexual desires growing as he did. He tells
us how although she was a lovely girl, her kindness didnt interest him and
his desires were for just breasts. This shows the audience that looking
back he can see that she was in actual fact a very nice girl, but at that
stage in puberty his hormones took over and seeing as she would not let
him touch her breasts, he no longer cared for this girl and simply broke up
with her. Furthermore, his maturity from that obsession with only wanting
a girlfriend to fulfil his sexual needs is emphasised to the reader when he
tells us that he would have found her attractive if they had met at
another stage in his life.
The extract ends with him showing how much he has grown up now as he
is able to distinguish the attitudes teenagers had towards relationships
differed amongst genders. This is a skill of which as a youth himself he
would not have possessed - as he is portrayed to have been rather selfcentred when he breaks up with a girl because she wasnt ready to have
sex but rather a quality he must have gained via maturing into an adult,
in which you need to understand and take into account the feelings of