The novel Stone Cold by Robert Swindells begins with the main character Link explaining that he is going to present the story of his life. He says that Link is not his real name and that he is among the homeless people who make the world an imperfect place.
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Shelter gives himself a name that he believes will attract homeless people, as he believes they are all looking to be sheltered from something. He says the homeless should brace themselves for what is coming and claims that he is prepared.
Link begins the story of his life and reveals that his parents divorced after Link’s father ran off with another woman when Link was fourteen. His mother’s new boyfriend, Vince, drinks a lot and constantly makes obscene comments in Link’s presence. Link suggests that Vince either abused or tried to abuse Carole, Link’s older sister, who eventually left home and moved in with her boyfriend. When Vince accuses Link of trying to get his mother’s money and locks him out of the house, Link decides to leave home.
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Shelter is getting used to his new name and enjoys the anticipation of starting his plan involving homeless people.
Link lives on the streets in Bradford, his hometown. A few nights a week, he goes to Carole’s place, but he is aware that his sister’s boyfriend does not like him. Link feels sad because he realizes he does not have a job or money, and life on the streets is going to be difficult. He feels depressed because there is nobody to protect him in case of danger, and because nobody cares about homeless people.
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Shelter goes on a walk around Charing Cross railway station and notices plenty of homeless people. One of the young ones asks him for money and Shelter gets angry, threatening to turn him into a soldier if he was in the National Service. Shelter recalls the boys under his command while he was a sergeant in the army. He reveals that he was discharged on medical grounds after twenty-nine years of service. He is frustrated because there is nothing medically wrong with him, and anticipates getting rid of the useless people who roam the streets.
Link applies for several jobs in Bradford but he is unsuccessful. He spends Christmas at his sister’s and gets a sleeping bag as a present from her and their mother. On Boxing Day, Carole invites her mother and Vince, who insults Link so much that Link decides to leave for London for good.
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Shelter adopts a cat named Sappho. Although he dislikes cats, he feels excited because the animal gives people the illusion that he is a friendly, inoffensive man. He feels that the cat is going to help him in his mission, which he is prepared to begin.
Link arrives in London in winter where he uses almost all his money to rent a room for two weeks. He realizes that his landlord will not negotiate, so he turns to the DSS and presents his situation, thinking that he is going to receive financial help. However, he has to wait several weeks to see if he is eligible for support.
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Shelter meets a homeless man close to his home, on a cold winter night. He pretends to run a h...