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PLAIN RUDE

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					Teachers’ Notes written by Kevin Steinberger
                                      PLAIN RUDE
                                      By Linda Aronson
Plain Rude is a very comic novel, absurd in its plot, bizarre in its characters and slapstick in its
action. Yet, underneath all the fun, it offers some insight into aspects of life today as individual
entrepreneurialism must cede to civic regulations, commercialism is tempered by environmental
concerns and teenage stirrings of love…well, there are a whole lot of obstacles that can get in
the way there.

Synopsis
Ian Rude, the teenage narrator, is a hopeless romantic. He admires the very desirable Suzie
McLaren, the model A-student in his class. He contrives to win her over by joining in all the
various extra-curricular school projects in which she is involved. A presentation is coming up
and a pianist is need. The less desirable Natasha can play the piano but there is a catch:
someone will have to take her place helping her mother, the whacky eco-activist Mrs Frye, feed
bats at the Frye animal refuge. To curry favour with Suzie and against his better instincts, Ian
offers to do the bat feeding. Meanwhile, the hillbilly Pocky family – neighbours of the Fryes’ and
friends of the Rudes’ – are converting their farm into Emu World. Mrs Frye is outraged and
plans to disrupt the opening. However, she is under a court order to desist from causing any
further public nuisance. Loyal Natasha takes up the cause and inveigles Ian into helping her. Ian
is now a lad of divided loyalties, nagging doubts, persistent heartache, and not a little
trepidation. But things often have a funny way of working out and no one is more surprised than
Ian.

Characterisation
The novel is peopled with a cast of delightfully eccentric characters; many are comic
stereotypes, some are just too eccentric to fit any mould. All of them are viewed through the
naïve eyes of Ian. The reader, however, views all the shenanigans from the position of a
superior outsider. Suzie really is too perfect and needs to get a life but not in lovelorn Ian’s
blinkered view. The Pockys - Cannibals motorcyclists - can’t be taken seriously although Mr and
Mrs Rude of “Rude Health” are very supportive of the project. Angela Thaker and her Psychos
are rabid eco-guerillas who can’t be helping advance the conservation cause. Mrs Frye is
generally thought to be off the planet. The Clones are a bunch of impossibly good students,
teacher’s pet-types. It’s just as well a fellow has good mates like Pricey and Bogle who can help
him navigate his way through this motley community that makes up little rural Yarradindi.

Discussion Points
• The title of the novel is comically ambiguous. What are its possible interpretations?
• Many of the characters are deliberate stereotypes which have been created for comic effect.
   Who are they and how do they function as stereotypes?
• The novel is narrated by Ian Rude. Could the story of the opening of Emu Farm and the
   ‘romance’ between Ian and Suzie have been told by another character? If someone else
   were to tell the story, how might it have been different?
• Much humour is derived from the contrast between characters, eg; the Rudes and the
   Pockys, Pricey and Bogle and the Clones. How do these contrasts work to get the reader to
   side with different characters?
• Emu World was doomed to fail. Why?
• One of the funniest strands in the novel is the role of Jet in the ‘relationship’ between Ian
   and Suzie? What does she do? What does it indicate about Ian’s keenness to win over
   Suzie?
• Much of the humour comes from irony, eg; a boy emu named Bruce Willis who has a
   problem with girl emus attacking him. What are some other examples of the use of irony?
• What important lessons does Ian learn about himself and others when all the kafuffle
   following the opening of Emu World dies down? (Chapter 28)

				
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