Robert Newton

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Runner: Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

On Monday morning, Charlie wakes up thinking of Alice, but he loses his dreaminess when he finds his mother obsessively cleaning the kitchen. Her condition has gotten worse over the past few weeks, and she has started neglecting Jack. Charlie goes to Squizzy’s house, and Dolly warns him that Squizzy is in a bad mood. Charlie finds Squizzy shouting at a henchman, who informs Squizzy that Snowy Cutmore, a local criminal kingpin, is forming an alliance with an infamous bookkeeper. Squizzy insists that he can take on both men, but Charlie doubts it. Squizzy brusquely summons Charlie and gives him a list of people to collect money from. One of the people on the list lives in Fitzroy, a suburb full of Squizzy’s enemies, which puts Charlie in a dangerous position.
For the second time, Charlie goes to Squizzy when the Feehans are in crisis. Squizzy was sympathetic and helpful during the incident with Mr. Peacock, but this time he treats Charlie as simply an employee whom he expects to obey him. Squizzy’s insistence that he can overcome both his rival gangsters speaks to Squizzy’s growing ambition and to the crime war that is slowly building in the background of the story. As this crime war escalates, so too does the danger Charlie that faces for allying with Squizzy. This becomes evident as Squizzy sends Charlie to Fitzroy.
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Charlie is nervous as he heads out to collect debts, since he has neither the muscle nor the charisma to persuade people to hand over money. When he meets the first man on the list, a shopkeeper, the man at first refuses to give Charlie the money. Charlie politely threatens to call down some of Squizzy’s enforcers, and the man pays him the money. Charlie’s confidence rises and he smugly takes one of the shopkeeper’s apples.
The power Charlie gets from working for Squizzy continues to drive Charlie’s ambition, making him more self-involved and indifferent to the suffering of people around him. In the past, he has flaunted his association with Squizzy to a police officer and Mr. Peacock––men who had formerly had power over Charlie. Now, though, Charlie’s enjoyment of his power leads him to bully an indebted shopkeeper. He steals one of the man’s apples because he knows the shopkeeper can’t protest, and he feels no guilt about it.
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