How does Stephen King reveal the major themes throughout "The Body?"

2 Answers

akannan's profile pic

Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the fundamental themes of "The Body" is brought out by the journey that the boys take.  The themes of innocence vs. experience, the acknowledgement of voice, as well as the notion of friendship are all revealed by the journey that the boys take.  The quest to find the body of Ray Bower are what sets in motion the development of characterization and conflict that enables the major themes to be revealed.  Through the journey to find the body, King is able to bring out the idea of friendship between the boys, and what it means at that moment as well as what it comes to mean later on.  Additionally, it is through the quest or journey that the reader is able to understand the boys and their identities.  It is through this voyage as well as the experiences that arise from it which enable the themes to be able to take hold.  King does not force the themes into the plot.  He understands that the heroic quest that someone like Gordy goes through will be one in which detailing it will be one in which the thematic development will become evident.  In this, King is able to reveal and enhance the themes that emerge as a result of the journey the boys undertake.

hannahhunt09's profile pic

hannahhunt09 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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Stephen King's story "The Body" expands on many different themes, including storytelling and relationships, specifically family relationships in contrast with friendships.

Storytelling is a simple yet strong theme in this story. The frame story of the novel is the adult narrator recollecting his past, particularly this one story from his childhood. Within this frame narrative, Gordon tells stories to his friends. Some of these apparently make it to publication eventually, as the adult Gordon attributes them to the literary magazines or other places where they were published. King shows storytelling as a coping mechanism as well as an entertaining talent, in both childhood and adulthood.

Relationships are a strong focus in this story as well. The boys obviously share a strong bond and are very close, but the narrator reveals that this may be for reasons other than simply sharing the same gender, location, and age. Gordon discusses their backgrounds, each of them coming from a home that is broken in some way. The boys seem to seek each other's company partially for escape and solidarity. Their friendship is a safe place; despite the horrible things that they witness and experience within this story, they cling together and stand by their friends until much later, when they eventually drift apart in high school.