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Stand By Me is the coming-of-age adventure film adapted from Stephen King’s short story titled ‘The Body.’ The movie follows a group of four young friends – all boys who embark on a journey into the woods to seek the dead body which the brother of one of them constantly talks about.
In the small town of Oregon named Castle Rock, housed four boys who go on an adventure to discover a lost body. Three days before Labor Day of 1959 Gordie Lachance, Vern Tesso, Chris Chambers, and Teddy Duchamp decide to reap the glory in which bringing the missing body of a kid, Ray Brower, back to the town would cause. On the journey the four boys begin to understand how each friend is more different than they once realized.
Gordie Lachance is recently a single sibling due to a jeep accident leading to the death of his older brother Denis. At the beginning of the film Gordie struggles to be notice by his parents and is often at the bad end of their comparisons to Denis. Often receiving the end of questions such as, “Why don’t you have friends like Denis?” and if he plays football like his brother did both by townsfolk and his father. This is recurring theme throughout the course of the journey and is a mystery if is resolved. He is often being comforted by Chris Chambers whom is his best friend out of group.
Gordie also is a far quieter and reserved one out of the group. This could be a sudden major change of the mood around the house, shown by flashbacks to dinner with his family, including Denis, where he is repeating being ignored by both parents yet Denis is trying to share the spotlight with his younger brothers’ writing. Only than is he acknowledged by his mother and promptly shut down by his father. According to Macionis (2014) Gordie could be experiencing alienation by isolation and misery from the lack of power. Even more so currently than the dinner scene simply due to the fact Denis is not there as his main support in a family household.
There is a chance he is starting to feel the symptoms of depression over Denis’s death. He is feeling guilty about not crying at his funeral and feels like it should be him that is dead and not his brother. Sadness, apathy, loss of interest, mood swings, unusual agitation, restless sleep, and around discontent are shown all throughout the film.
Not much is revealed about Vern Tesso home life, other than the fact that he has two brothers, his mother cleaned his room, and he is on a desperate attempt to find a jar of lost pennies under the deck of the house. Which is where he heard about the location of the dead body hidden from his oblivious brothers. At first glance it is easy to write Vern as a wimp who, more often than not, makes a mountain out of an ant hill. Getting upset about losing a comb, jumping at the slightest noises, and who speaks before he thinks.
Upon closer expectation it could be plausible that Vern could have a slight case of panicking, which in the Macionis (2014) textbook, explains panic as a collective behavior which people react to a threat with frantic or self-destructive behavior. When encountering the second train across the railroad bridge, Vern clings to the railroad as the train is traveling at high speeds towards Gordie and himself. After Gordie encourages in out under his panic attack they make it to safety. However, the fact remains that if Gordie was not there Vern would have most likely stayed there and died. Later on in the film the boys have to stand guard for animals. Vern is highly anxious about every sound whether it’s as harmless as an owl or cricket, he perceives as a threat.
Vern is also seen as being at the bottom of the food chain. His status or social position that he holds. Often due to his lack of knowledge and cowardice. Seen several scenes but most noticeable in his fight or flight response at the end of the movie when his brothers and their gang show up unannounced and flees quickly.
Chris Chambers is one of the most complex character of the group. Gordie at the beginning of the film introduces Chris as the leader of the four. He is extraordinary kind to everyone in the group and cares deeply for each member, it is easy to say that he is the definition of an expressive leader. When the first train interrupts the friends’ conversation of food, Teddy decides it is a good time to play dodge the train. As the train is barreling towards him, Chris rips his friend away from the danger risking the backlash of Teddy well the others stand by. Gordie finds comfort in Chris about his family crisis. Consistently throughout the film encouraging him to keep writing and that his dad does not hate him. It is clear to see that Gordie is almost like extended family. He also side embraces Teddy after a run in with Milo from the junkyard. Chambers always takes the lead on making sure everyone is alright and there are no hard feelings.
However, outside of the group he is known as a bad kid from a bad family. After a small thief about milk money, which he returned after feeling guilty. Unfortunately, the teacher, whom he stole from, decided to use his families’ bad reputation against him. Seeing as the teacher, and police if involved, had a higher authority thus painting them as a legitimate respectable power. Unable to prove his regret and money given back he is labeled throughout the town as a thief and expresses his wish to go somewhere he’s not known. In a slight since Chamber’s a victim of the labeling theory, which is how Chris self-identifies himself as, a bad and stupid person, because of how the way the towns people responded to the act of deviance.
This small accident had affected and followed in the entirety of his residence at Castle Rock. It is fair to say that even if in an isolated area, he was a target of discrimination, which means he was unequally judged and treated upon the that by the majority of the people (Macionis, 2014, p. 401). Though a scene that was never directly showing this, there is a conversation between Gordie and him where Chris is upset that he will be stuck in a stupid woodshop class and never get the chance to prove himself smart enough to take fancy classes like Gordie. It’s possible that this a situation that he has encountered before. In the end under the encouragement of his best friend, he completes advanced schooling under the formal instruction of under trained teachers to become a lawyer.
Lastly, there is Teddy Duchamp was far the craziest thrill seeker of the group. To the point you question if he is slightly suicidal, trying to see if he can dodge a train. He is the most unstable of the group switching between happy and mad under a flip of a switch, and sticks to insulting people when things do not go his way.
He comes from a home where his father is essentially an alcoholic lunatic. Who’s erupt anger cause family violence, which is the emotional, physical, and even sexual abuse of a family member to another. It is unknown if Teddy’s mother was also harmed, but it is wise to assume both her and Teddy were emotionally harmed. Teddy father also burned his ear on a hot stove well drunk. Causing permeant damage to his eye sight and hearing. Which in today’s society would be a criminal offense, however Teddy’s father is locked up in a mental ward hospital.
After growing up under his father, he is more prone towards violence. Such as at the junkyard after Gordie is chased by Chopper the dog. The owner, Milo, begins to insult the young boys verbally, moving along from person to person until strikes a chord in Teddy about his father. Initially, ignoring it, until Milo is viciously going at him and his father, he snaps and lunges toward the fence to attack. Or after Gordie passes out after the leeches and Vern and Chris suggest going back to Teddy. He responses with vulgar name calling that results in a small fist fight. Regardless of provoked or not it is clear he is not afraid to throw the first punch.
Oddly even through his father’s abuse he seems to have a slice of respect for his old man. This stems from the fact that he served during World War II storming the beaches of Normandy. It is clear that Teddy is inspired by this, perhaps clinging to the days when his dad was somewhat sane. In the movie Teddy wears a dog tag necklace and combat boots. Clearly his dream is to join the Army like his old man.
Stand By Me started out as a film that was about four boy looking to find a body, but along the way the true story was the friendship and support system behind all out them. On a two day trip they struggled not so much against nature but against themselves. Together they overcame and gained a better understanding of each emotional struggles. Even though each of their problems were not solved, nor would they be for a long time, they learned that being there for someone is just important.
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