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.
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, having beenthought to have been hit by a train. 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 isa straight retrospective of what happened, but comments, or entire chapters that relate to the present time, are interspaced 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, completewith attribution to the magazines in which they were published.
As much as the story itself is basically a coming-of-age tale of Gordon and his pals and their mostly comical adventures in the woods, there is a bittersweet, poignant quality running throughout it. This is especially the case whenever Gordon, the narrator, begins waxing nostalgic whether describing the bygone sights and sounds ofthe town he grew up in or when delving into some of the more painful and bitter aspects about his own and his pals' dysfunctional home lives. In the end, the story becomes more of a chronicle describing the moment when Gordon and his pals leave their childhood behind and a foreshadowing as to the tragic fates that would befall all but him.
Vern Tessio informs his three friendsthat he has overheard his older brother Billy talking with a friend about the location of the corpse of Ray Brower, a boy from Chamberlain, a town 50 miles or so east of Castle Rock who has gone missing. Billy and his friend mentioned a place called Back Harlow Road, so the four friends decide that they will find it.
The boys walk along the railroad tracks toward the presumed location of thecorpse. Along the way, they are chased by a dog and Gordon and Vern are nearly run over by a train while crossing a bridge. While at a resting point, Chris states that Gordie will grow up to become a famous writer – perhaps he'll even write about his friends some day. All the while, the boys are forced to confront some very painful truths about themselves as well as the reality of their situationgrowing up in a small town that offers them little or nothing in the way of escaping their seemingly dead-end existence.
When they finally find the spot where the body lies, Vern's older brother, Chris's older brother and a number of their teenage bully friends arrive just after they do. The older boys are upset to see the four friends, and during an argument, Chris pulls his father's gun that he hastaken from his home and fires into the air and then threatens Ace Merrill, the leader of the gang. After a brief standoff Ace realizes that Chris is serious, and the teenagers leave after promising to get the boys later.
The older boys ultimately decide to phone in the location of the body as an "anonymous tip" and it is eventually found by the authorities as a result. After they arrive home,Ace and another thug break Gordon's nose and fingers and kick him in the testicles, and are on the verge of harming him more seriously when they are run off by Gordon's neighbor, Aunt Evvie Chalmers. Chris's brother breaks Chris's arm and "leaves his face looking like a Canadian sunrise." Teddy and Vern get less severe beatings. The boys refuse to identify their assailants to the authorities,...