Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.
Introduction to Divided City
Have you ever had a friendship threatened by outside influences? This is the reality for Graham and Joe, who find that their families' warring religious viewpoints get in the way of their being friends. Through a shared love of football and a desire to do the right thing, the boys try to find some common ground. This lesson will focus on the characters and summary of the novel Divided City by Theresa Berslin.
Graham: a great football player who happens to be Protestant, a coddled only child
Joe: a great football player who happens to be Catholic
Kyoul: a young Muslim asylum seeker
Leann: Kyoul's girlfriend
Jammy: Joe's cousin, a Catholic who often gets into trouble
Joe's Dad: educated but depressed Catholic man
Granda Reid: Graham's grandfather, who is an Orangeman
A City Divided
In Glasgow, Scotland, everything is divided. Religion, services, and even the football (Americans would say soccer here) clubs the people follow. It's in this city that our protagonist Graham and his new friend Joe have grown up in.
Glasgow is made up of Protestants, who live on the west side of town. Many of the Protestants are native Scots, who tend to be wealthier and follow the football team called the Rangers. The Catholics, who live on the east side of the city, are often Irish emigrants who have settled in Scotland. The Catholic football team is known as the Celtics. There are many instances of fighting and violence between these groups of citizens.
Recently, a third group in Scotland is also a recipient of violence. The refugees from other countries, called asylum seekers. These immigrants, often Muslims from the Middle East, are targeted by both groups.
A Shared Love of Football
The novel follows two boys who are on the same soccer team. They're becoming friends, though they are on different sides of the divide. Graham is a Protestant, and his new friend Joe is a Catholic. Though they follow different sports teams--Graham loves the Rangers, while Joe is a Celtics fan-- they get along very well. Beside that, they are the two best players on the team.
One day after practice, Graham decides to take a shortcut home and use his bus money for chips. He goes down an alley and sees a group of stab a young foreign boy and run away. The boy, Kyoul, is badly hurt and Graham takes him to the hospital. There, Kyoul begs Graham to take the cellphone he is carrying back to Leanne, and tell her that he has been injured. Graham, worried about getting into trouble, agrees.
The next day, Graham tries to follow through on his promise to Kyoul. He gets lost, ending up in a Catholic neighborhood called the Garngad. He's wearing his Rangers colors, so he quickly zips his jacket and hopes no one has noticed. But someone has. Jammy, a tough Catholic boy, quickly starts harassing Graham. Joe sees the altercation and comes to Graham's rescue, chasing off his cousin. Joe goes with Graham to deliver the phone, and then to visit Kyoul in the hospital. There, the nurse starts asking Graham questions and Graham is worried the police will find him while investigating the stabbing.
At home, both boys have problems. Graham's grandfather, Grandpa Reid, is pressuring him to join the Orange Walk, a time when Protestants gather and celebrate the victory of William of Orange over King James. These marches stir up lots of bad feelings in the city, and Graham is divided about joining them. He wants to make his grandfather happy, but he doesn't want to cause trouble. Joe's life is a struggle, too. His father is severely depressed and rarely leaves the house, leaving Joe to care for him.
Green Streaks and Orange Walks
Graham is still concerned that the police will be looking for him, so he goes to Joe's family's hairdressing salon and allows Joe to put streaks into his hair. But the streaks, which were supposed to be blond, come out bright green. It's the day before the Orange Walk, and Graham is horrified to have Celtics colors in his hair. He and Joe argue, and Joe decides that if his friend marches, he'll go with Jammy and throw things at the Protestants.
Joe changes his mind and convinces Jammy not to disrupt the parade.
The next day is the day of the big game. Joe apologizes to Graham, and Graham tells him that he's decided to tell the police about what really happened to Kyoul. Joe and Graham decide to focus on what's really important...winning the football match. They shake hands and then run onto the field together.
A shared love of football unites Protestant Graham and Catholic Joe. The best players on their team, the boys have started a wary friendship. The friendship is cemented when Graham witnesses a group of boys stab a young asylum seeker (or refugees from other countries), Kyoul. When Graham goes into Joe's neighborhood to bring a message to Kyoul's girlfriend, he's waylaid by Joe's loud, aggressive cousin Jammy. Joe rescues Graham, and the two complete the errand together.
The boys' friendship is threatened by the looming Orange Walks, which celebrate the victory of the Protestant William of Orange. Catholics often disrupt the parades by throwing things, and Jammy has plans to do just that. But the boys put aside their differences over their shared talent and unite to play together.
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