Study Guide

Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life Bullying

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There isn't a whole lot of gray area around the subject of bullying. It. just. sucks. It ain't fun, it ain't pretty, and it can happen just about anywhere, and at any time.

Just ask Rafe Khatchadorian. He ends up getting bullied on two fronts—home and school.

At school, there's Miller the Killer. From the first minute Rafe walks into homeroom, Miller just won't leave Rafe alone. If you looked up "bullying" in the dictionary, you'd probably find a picture of Miller's ugly, smirking mug. And he'd have his fist balled up ready to punch you.

At home, there's Bear, who we can only imagine spent his years in middle school exactly like Miller and then grew up, met Rafe's mom, and moved into Rafe's house to inflict his jerkness on him:

"Did you sign up for football yet?"

"Nah," I said. I took a couple of pudding cups out of the fridge and kept moving toward my room.

"Why the heck not?" he yelled after me. "Football's the one thing you're actually good at!"

"Don't worry, I didn't forget I'm a loser, Loser," I said as I zoomed down the hall.

"DID YOU JUST CALL ME A LOSER?" Bear roared back. (8.9-13)

What's even going on with these guys? Why does it always seem like they're just hanging around trying to ruin Rafe's day?

Because that's what bullies do. The U.S. government defines a bullying as "unwanted, aggressive behavior […] that involves a real or perceived power imbalance." Bullies want to feel large and in charge…and they achieve this by making you feel kind of small and helpless.

This constant bullying is a big reason why Rafe decides to rebel against the rules and start Operation R.A.F.E. If he can't keep the bullies from picking on him wherever he goes, then at least he can chew gum in class or run down the halls in his underwear.

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