The Body (novella)

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The Body, or Fall from Innocence is a novella by Stephen King, originally published in King's 1982 collection Different Seasons. It was later adapted into the acclaimed film Stand By Me in 1986.


Plot introduction

The story takes place during the summer of 1960 in the fictional town of Castle Rock, Maine. A kid named Ray Brower had gone out to pick berries and never returned. Gordie Lachance and his three friends, Chris Chambers, Teddy Duchamp, and Vern Tessio set out to find his body after telling their parents they will be camping out.

In comparison to King's prior works, the narrative of The Body is complicated in that it is told in first person point of view by the now thirty-something novelist Gordon Lachance. Most of the story is a straight retrospective of what happened, but comments, or entire chapters that relate to the present time, are interspersed throughout.

Although he is only 12 at the time of the story, Gordon's favorite diversion is writing and storytelling. Three times during the narrative, he tells stories to his friends, and two stories are presented in the text as short stories by Gordon Lachance, complete with attribution to the magazines in which they were published.

Plot summary

Main narratives

Following the end of the 1960 part of the story, the narration goes into fast-forward. It describes the next year or so briefly, stating that Teddy and Vern drift off, befriending some younger boys. In high school, just as Chris predicted, Gordon begins taking college-preparation courses. Unexpectedly, so does Chris. In spite of abuse from his father, taunts from his classmates and distrust from teachers and school counselors, he manages to be successful with help from Gordon.

The final two chapters describe the fates of Gordon's three friends; none of them survive past young adulthood. Vern is killed in a house fire after a party. Teddy, while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, crashes his car and he and other people were killed. Chris, who became an outstanding high school and college student and preparing to attend law school, is stabbed to death after trying to stop a brawl in a fast-food restaurant. Gordon, the only one who survives, continues to write stories through college, and publishes a number of them in small literary journals and men's magazines. He has the great luck of having his first novel become a smashing hit, and a successful film as well. At the time of writing about the events in 1960, he has written seven novels about the supernatural. Gordon has a wife and three children.

Stories told by "Gordon Lachance"

"Stud City" was originally "published" in Greenspun Quarterly 45 in the fall of 1970. It has also been published as a separate short story by King in Ubris (University of Maine's literary journal), Fall, 1969.

"The Revenge of Lard Ass Hogan" was "published" in Cavalier magazine in March 1975.

Rob Reiner's 1986 movie Stand By Me, with an all star cast, was based on this book.

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