Stand By Me is the adaptation of the Stephen King short story, “The Body.” Four middle school boys set out on a quest to find the dead body of one of their classmates in the hopes of bringing him back to town and becoming heroes for their effort. Each of the boys have lived in the small town of Castle Rock, Maine their entire lives. They all have hopes of leaving, escaping the myriad abuses they have all suffered, and becoming something greater than their parents. They want more than the comfortableness that their parents settled for; they want the spectacular, which is why they seek out the body and the presumed fame that comes with the discovery.
The boys don’t want to just be rich and famous though. In fact that is just a cover for their true desires. Gordie, Chris, Vern, and Teddy all want to be heroes, men of virtue, kindness, and strength like the protagonists of their favorite comics. They want to treat those around them better than they have been treated and they want others to follow their example. In a society which equates ambition with virtue and excuses corruption in its pursuit, those that put others before themselves are rare and are to be valued.
We see that the boys do not have to work hard at being compassionate. It is instinct for them to protect their own, to defend against those that aim only to cause harm. They are by no means saints; they have minor faults that most people possess as they are growing up. They are crude and selfish and a little greedy, but they are without malice. Chris is the most selfless, especially in his care for his friends, to the point where he pours so much into Gordie and the others that there is hardly anything left for himself. His self-deprecation and lack of faith in his abilities become too much for Gordie to witness. Chris awakens a strength, and a sense of worth in Gordie. When Gordie realizes just what Chris has done for him, he returns the favor. Gordie does what none of their parents, or anyone outside of their gang has ever done for any of them. He listens.
So often are the young ignored. They are seen as ignorant, impossible of understanding or comprehending such advanced phenomena as adversity, pain, humiliation, or exploitation. These four boys prove that that perception is false. Children and young adults deserve the respect, care, and attention adults show each other. How will they grow to become the kind of human beings that exhibit such valuable traits if they are never exposed to them?