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Topic:

"The Body" by stephen King's story (Essay Sample)

Instructions:

the topic is should be based on the movie or the book and you have to choice thesis statement and follow the thesis.you don't have to tell the story again. you have to write what you think. and compare each characters with others. for example Gordie vs his parents Chris vs his brother Vern vs. his brother Billy etc.and here is some topics on "The Body", Discuss the role of the train in the story, with special reference to the scene on the trestle when Gordie and Vern are almost struck. what does this scene mean to the story and/or to each boy separately? why?what does the body of Ray Brower mean to each boy? what are they looking for? do they find it? are any of the experience of seeing the body? who? how? How do you know? Thank you so much!

“The Body,” by Stephen King

 

Setting (time) is the weekend before Labor Day, 1960 (in the book) or 1959 (in the movie).  The physical place is a small town called Castle Rock.  The most important part of the setting is the train tracks the boys walk along in their allegorical journey to adulthood. 

 

Major characters, beginning with the four boys

Gordie Lachance.  To the extent that the story is autobiographical, this is the character who represents Stephen King.  He has a comfortable middle class life, but neglectful parents who ignore him because they’re preoccupied with the death of his brother Dennis the previous April.  His parents preferred Dennis; they always ignored Gordon, who was born when his mother was forty-two.  His father compares him unfavorably to Dennis and particularly dislikes his friends.  He says his friend Chris is a thief and his friends Teddy and Vern are “feebs,” which means feeble-minded.

Chris Chambers.  This character is Gordie’s best friend not only during the story, but later through high school (after the events of this story take place).  He’s a tough guy with a gentle streak; his good character and ultimate success come from his determination to rise above his drunken, abusive father, neglectful mother, and juvenile delinquent older brother Eyeball (also a character in the story, a member of the teenage gang that plagues the boys later).  He’s the one who’s suspended for stealing the school’s milk money.  In fact he stole the money but later returned it; however, the teacher he returned the money to kept the money for herself and used it to buy a skirt.  She felt free to do this because of the low reputation of Chris’s family, which meant no one would believe him if he claimed she’d lied.

Teddy Duchamp.  Teddy’s the one with glasses and the deformed ear.  His father stormed the beach at Normandy, but came home from World War Two with severe post-traumatic stress disorder.  One day he pressed Teddy’s head to the stove and burned most of his ear off as a punishment for some minor offense.  When the ambulance arrived, Teddy’s father was mumbling about Krauts (German soldiers) hiding out in the yard.  From this episode, the Army has inferred that Teddy’s father is mentally ill; he’s hospitalized for life in a Veteran’s hospital for the insane.  Despite his father’s abuse, Teddy adores his father and wants only to follow him into the Army.  Teddy’s pride in his father is later the source of a major quarrel with Milo Pressman, the manager of the town dump, who calls him the “son of a loony.”

Vern Tessio.  The fat kid whose older brother Billy is one of the original discoverers of the body.  (Billy is also a member of the teenage gang that plagues the boys later.)  Vern overhears the story of the body (from his brother Billy and Billy’s buddy Charlie Hogan) while looking for a missing jar of pennies he’s buried under the family porch. 

The gang of older boys.  These are led by Ace Merrill (played by Kiefer Sutherland in the movie).  The gang varies in size from four to seven or eight members.  The four stable members are Ace himself, Richie “Eyeball” Chambers (Chris’s older brother), Billy Tessio (Vern’s older brother), and Charlie Hogan.   They’re all hoods.

Milo Pressman.  The manager of the junk yard; the one who sics his dog on the boys for trespassing.  Also the one who calls Teddy “the son of a loony.”  He threatens to tell the boys’ parents that they broke into the junkyard, but declines to report them after they threaten to tell the police that he ordered his dog to bite them.

George Dusset.  In the book, though not in the movie, he’s the owner of the store where they buy the ground beef, buns, and Cokes for their dinner.  In the book, this store is called the Florida Market; in the movie it’s called something like “Quidlicious.”  Dusset, who has another name in the film, is only a major character in the book.  In the book he has a role similar to that of Milo Pressman (see above) and Old Lady Simon (see below).

Old Lady Simon.  She’s the teacher who keeps the stolen milk money that Chris tries to return.  Like Milo Pressman and George Dusset, her function in the story is to rob the boys of any illusions they might have that life is fair or that adults play by the same rules they try to instill in their kids.

 

Conflicts, beginning with man vs. man

Gordie vs. his parents

Chris vs. his brother Eyeball

Chris vs. his alcoholic father

Vern vs. his brother Billy

All four boys vs. Ray Brower (the dead kid whose body they go to find)

Teddy (and the other boys) vs. Milo Pressman

Gordie vs. George Dusset

Chris vs. Old Lady Simons

Ace vs. Gordie (in the film Gordie’s the one who pulls the gun)

Ace vs. Chris (in the book Chris’s the one who pulls the gun)

Gordie and Chris vs. Teddy and Vern (see the dream on page 391, at the end of chapter 19)

Man vs. society

Chris vs. the town

Chris vs. the school

The younger boys vs. the older boys

The boys vs. the train, especially when crossing the trestle bridge over the Castle River

Man vs. nature

The boys vs. the landscape (the heat, later the forest and the bog)

The boys vs. the body of Ray Brower

Man vs. self

Chris vs. self over who he is

Teddy vs. self over who his father is

Gordie vs. self over whether his parents love him or not and whether it’s his fault they don’t love him if they don’t

The boys vs. themselves over whether to cross the trestle bridge at risk of meeting a train

The boys vs. themselves over whether to continue looking for the body after things start to go wrong

The boys vs. themselves over what to do with the body when they find it

 

Statements of theme?   Let’s begin with some questions & issues.  Then we’ll use possible answers to these questions as potential statements of theme.  Remember that there is no “right” answer to any question we ask.  These are only some possible answers.

Why do the boys have to see the body?  Why are they compelled to find the dead body and look at it face to face?  What does this have to do with the larger issue of growing up?  Here are some possible answers:

  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that it’s only by confronting death that we gain respect and attention from the living.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that it’s only by confronting the inevitability of our deaths that we can see why we have to take charge of our lives.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that our drive to confront the deaths of others stems from our desire to avoid their mistakes.

On the way to the body, why do the boys have to cross the dangerous trestle bridge rather than taking the safer long route around the Castle River?

  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that if we never take risks to reach our goals, we may wind up sidetracked all our lives, going places we never intended to go and never reaching our true destinations.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that we’re never recognized for choosing the safe paths others want us to choose.  We only gain respect from others by taking risks and finding new paths.

What makes someone a loser?  In this story who are the real losers and who are the real winners and why?

  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that losers are people who lack the ability to change, usually because they lack the ability to examine their lives.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that losers are people who can’t do hard things for themselves.  Instead they try to steal the achievements of others. 
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that losers are people who quit when the going gets tough.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that losers are people who can’t think for themselves.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that losers are people who let themselves be dragged down by others—misguided friends, abusive parents, ignorant teachers, or town gossips and fools—who hold them back.

What’s the difference between courage and foolhardiness?

  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that courage isn’t taking pointless risks.  Courage is doing what must be done to get what we want.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that courage isn’t doing what others dare us to do.  Courage is doing what no one has thought of doing before.

What makes a man a leader?  (Ace and Chris are both leaders, but consider the difference between them in how they lead and what they lead friends to do!)

  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that a real leader doesn’t tell people what he wants them to do and where he wants them to go.  A real leader asks people where they want to go and then figures out how to take them.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that real leaders don’t break rules just to be different or prove they can’t be controlled.  Real leaders choose to break only those rules that hold them back from doing what they should do or becoming what they should become.

What makes a man a man?  Does it have to do with the willingness to take risks?  Does it have to do with the ability to look out for others as well as himself?  Does it have to do with not letting others hold him back? 

  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that you can’t become an adult if you live in the shadow of the person your parents, friends, or town thought you should be.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that an adult is a person who thinks for himself, especially when making the tough choices that count.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that you can’t grow up until you face the things you fear most about your past.
  • In his story The Body, Stephen King shows us that you can’t grow up until you learn how to deal with the changes the future will bring.

 

Some symbols:

Ray Brower’s body

The trains

The train tracks

The trestle bridge

The woods

The flies (compare to the role of flies in our next work, Lord of the Flies)

The bog & the leeches in the bog

The deer Gordie sees early one morning (mentioned on pages 393 & 424)

Milo Pressman (symbolic character)

The junkyard (symbolic place)

The beat-up cars the older boys drive

The hailstorm that rains down on the boys and the body when they find it (in the book but not in the film)

 

A few examples of irony (not an exhaustive list)

Chris Chambers gets a reputation as a crook only after he tries to return stolen money, not because he took it; also Chris Chambers has a reputation as a crook, but it’s actually a teacher who stole the money

Gordie’s parents spend all their time thinking about their dead son and no time at all thinking about the one who’s still alive

Teddy loves the father who nearly killed him, while Gordie feels nothing for a father who’s never physically hurt him

The older boys (the punks) control everyone else, but they have no control over their own lives and their own futures

 

Some specific scenes to examine for symbolic description that could be used as evidence to support statements of theme

Gordie’s father watering his garden (chapter 6, page 308):  how he waters his plants represents how he cared for his sons

The town dump (chapter 11, pages 335-6):  the things in the dump are broken, useless things left behind; here they suggest the broken, useless memories and people left behind in the town

Milo Pressman (end of chapter 12, page 350):  Milo Pressman, stuck in the dump and staring uselessly through the fence, is the prototypical small town loser adult left behind by life

The Castle River and the trestle bridge (chapter 14, pages 354-6, 357-9, 361):  the flimsy, chintzy bridge over the deep river represents the dangers we face every day in life, but would rather ignore

The train tracks (chapter 17, pages 380-1; chapter 25, page 405):  the road of life, which is sometimes dusty and ugly; sometimes golden; and sometimes dramatic, startling, gorgeous, and pretty darned scary

Ray Brower’s body and the hailstorm (chapter 25, pages 406-10):  death and change, the way of nature and the end of us all

But hey, why am I telling you what to see?  Look for yourself.

source..
Content:
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Introduction
Universal themes are explored in Steven King's story of “The Body”. Love, hate, conflict, ambition, family and aspects that constitute regular family life setting. These themes are exposed when characters in the story are pitted against other characters under circumstances that elicit these themes. In this story, the writer sends the message that to reach our goals, we must take risks. One should also not take into account the downgrading received from his peers or guardians when making life determining decisions
In The Body, Little attention is paid to Gordy by his parents. He is denied the encouragement and love that is important in making him grow. His parents still mourn Gordy's brother who passed away and was their favorite. Their lack of enthusiasm for anything he does is also elicited in how they view his company. Vern, an innocent curious boy conflicts with his brother Billy who is a gan...
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