Törless (TEHR-lehs), a young boy at the celebrated military boarding school “W” in a remote eastern town of the Austrian Empire. When Törless first arrives at the boarding school, he is homesick and writes letters home almost daily. Although a friendship with the youthful cadet Prince H. helps him to overcome this early personal problem, it is only when Törless becomes acquainted with two older classmates, Beineberg and Reiting, that he begins to resolve this crisis in his psychological development. Beineberg indirectly helps Törless to overcome the attendant and painful experiences of his awakening sexuality. Most important in the coming to adolescent consciousness, however, is his difficult and ambivalent homosexual relationship with his classmate Basini. Even though Törless is physically present during the torture of Basini and even receives some vicarious pleasure from the events, he seems to be intellectually separated from them. He is trying to come to terms with a confusion that does not allow him to reconcile the events he observes and feels with the intellectual world he is developing. No one on the faculty seems able to help him to articulate this dilemma. It is not until later, while under questioning about the Basini affair, that Törless suddenly recognizes the conundrum that has plagued him. He explains that there are things that are on some occasions seen with the eyes and at other times with the eyes of the soul. Having attained this insight, Törless decides to leave the boarding school.
Basini (bah-SEE-nee), another student. Basini has all the personal characteristics of the physically...
(The entire section is 710 words.)