Pink Bow Tie by Paul Jennings
In Pink Bow Tie by Paul Jennings we have the theme of honesty, appearance, desire, opportunity, fear, discontent, acceptance, change and curiosity. Narrated in the first person by an unnamed fourteen year old boy the reader realises after reading the story that Jennings may be exploring the theme of honesty. If the narrator is to be believed then it would appear that everything he tells Old Splodge is true. That the narrator is being honest. Though the story the narrator tells Old Splodge might be considered by some to be fantastical if not improbable. However if the reader suspends their disbelief then they will realise that Jennings is also exploring the theme of appearance. Not everything is as it seems. Something that is noticeable by Old Splodge’s assumption that the narrator dyed his hair rather than it turning white out of fright. It is also interesting that each of the characters with the exception of the mean guy use the age rager to their advantage. It is as though they desire or wish to be a certain age and the age rager assists them. The old lady in particular may be important as she chooses to be sixteen again. It is as though the age rager is giving the old lady the opportunity to relive her life.
Where previously the old lady might have considered that her life was near an end. With the age rager she has been rejuvenated back to the age of sixteen. Each character in the story has an opportunity to reset their life to an age that they are comfortable with. Something that in reality many people would like to be able to do. If anything the age rager has the ability to make a person immortal. Such is its power. However with such power comes danger. Something that is noticeable by the mean guy’s misuse of the age rager. The result being that the mean guy ends up killing himself. The fact that the narrator himself does not use the age rager is also interesting. He has every opportunity to however he refrains from using it. This could be important as the narrator may realise that the age ranger though it has its advantages also has its downsides too. It is also possible that the narrator though he is in trouble twice in two days in school realises that his life may not necessarily need to be changed. He accepts his age, his limitations and knows that life will progress normally for him. Where the other characters have implemented a change in their life. The narrator is most likely happy. Despite being in trouble.
He may be romantically interested in Miss Newton and the age rager would help him when it comes to the issue of asking Miss Newton out. However the narrator is in no rush to change his life. Having seen what happened the mean guy. If anything the narrator may be comfortable as a fourteen year old boy. Though at the same time afraid of the powers of the age rager. Which leaves the reader wondering that perhaps all of the other characters in the story may be discontent with their age and as such with their lives. Something which may be very true for Old Splodge who has most likely used the age rager to turn back the clock so that he can be eighteen again and romantically involved with Miss Newham. If anything Old Splodge may be driven by lust. Knowing that as a man who is about to retire he has no possibility of grabbing Miss Newham’s attention. However with the aid of the age rager. Things change and are very much different.
The fact that the narrator does not get into trouble at the end of the story is also interesting as by not getting into trouble the reader tends to believe his story that little bit more. Though as mentioned it is a fantastical tale. However that may be the point that Jennings is attempting to make. Just because a story or tale may be fantastical or deemed to be unbelievable does not mean that it is not true. The fact that Jennings introduces the pink bow tie again at the end of the story leads the reader to believe that Old Splodge has used the age rager. Also no letter arrived at the narrator’s home instructing the narrator’s parents that the narrator was suspended from school. In reality some of the characters have changed their ages to suit their desires or needs. Something that is particularly true when it comes to the old lady and Old Splodge. The one person who has remained static throughout the story is the narrator. The reader aware that driven by fear and acceptance the narrator has no interest in using the age rager. He can see the positives and the negatives of such a powerful machine and does not wish to use it. Hence the narrator giving the age rager to Old Splodge who driven by curiosity choose to turn himself back into an eighteen year old.