Stand by Me (1986)

Brief Intro

“Stand by Me” is a coming-of-age film directed by Rob Reiner, based on Stephen King’s novella “The Body.” The film, set in the 1950s, follows four boys—Gordie, Chris, Teddy, and Vern—as they embark on a journey to find the body of a missing boy. Their adventure becomes a poignant exploration of friendship, loss, and growing up.

Literary Devices Used in Stand by Me

1. Foreshadowing

Foreshadowing is a literary device that gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story. In “Stand by Me,” foreshadowing adds layers to the narrative and keeps the audience engaged.

Movie SceneDevice Example
The boys hear about the missing boy’s bodyHints at their upcoming adventure and discovery
Gordie’s fascination with deathPrepares the audience for the climax and his reflections

2. Symbolism

Symbolism is the use of symbols to signify ideas and qualities by giving them symbolic meanings different from their literal sense. “Stand by Me” is rich with symbolic elements.

Movie SceneDevice Example
The journey to find the bodySymbolizes the journey from innocence to experience
The deer sceneRepresents a moment of peace and the beauty of life

3. Flashback

Flashbacks are interruptions that writers do to insert past events in order to provide background or context to the current events of a narrative.

Movie SceneDevice Example
Gordie remembers his brother DennyProvides insight into Gordie’s emotional struggles
The boys’ conversation about their futuresReflects their past experiences and dreams

4. Imagery

Imagery involves using descriptive language to create visual representations of actions, objects, and ideas in our mind.

Movie SceneDevice Example
Descriptions of the woodsEvokes the sense of adventure and mystery
The train sceneCreates a vivid and tense atmosphere

5. Metaphor

A metaphor is a figure of speech that makes a comparison between two unlike things, suggesting they are alike in a significant way.

Movie SceneDevice Example
The journey as a metaphor for lifeTheir adventure represents the trials and growth in life
Gordie’s story about the pie-eating contestReflects his feelings of inferiority and shame

6. Irony

Irony is a literary device where the intended meaning is different from the actual meaning of the words.

Movie SceneDevice Example
The boys’ quest to find a dead bodyIronic because they discover more about themselves
Vern’s fears about dangerIronically, the journey becomes a rite of passage

7. Theme

A theme is a central topic, subject, or message within a narrative.

Movie SceneDevice Example
FriendshipThe bond between the boys is central to the story
Coming of ageThe boys’ journey marks their transition to adulthood

8. Tone

Tone refers to the attitude or approach that the author takes toward the work’s central theme or subject.

Movie SceneDevice Example
The boys’ camaraderieThe tone is nostalgic and reflective
The confrontation with AceShifts to a more intense and serious tone

9. Motif

A motif is a recurrent image, idea, or symbol that develops or explains a theme.

Movie SceneDevice Example
The repeated train scenesRepresents danger and the boys’ bravery
References to stories and storytellingHighlights Gordie’s talent and his way of coping

10. Allusion

An allusion is an indirect reference to a person, place, thing, or idea of historical, cultural, literary, or political significance.

Movie SceneDevice Example
Gordie’s reference to other storiesAlludes to his creative aspirations and influences
The boys’ discussion about their heroesReflects their aspirations and values

This detailed literary analysis of “Stand by Me” explores how the film employs various devices to enrich its narrative and deepen its emotional impact. Each device not only enhances the storytelling but also brings out the nuances of the characters’ journey and growth.

Character Analysis Through Literary Devices

Character Studies

Gordie Lachance

NarrationGordie’s voiceover provides insight into his thoughts and emotions, revealing his reflective and sensitive nature.
FlashbackFlashbacks to moments with his brother Denny show Gordie’s sense of loss and how it shapes his character.

Chris Chambers

DialogueChris’s heartfelt conversations with Gordie reveal his depth and intelligence, despite his tough exterior.
IronyChris is seen as a delinquent, but his actions show he is morally strong and protective.

Teddy Duchamp

HyperboleTeddy’s exaggerated stories about his father illustrate his coping mechanisms for dealing with trauma.
Comic ReliefHis wild antics provide humor but also hint at his underlying pain.

Vern Tessio

Comic ReliefVern’s humorous moments lighten the mood, showcasing his innocence and naivety.
JuxtapositionVern’s carefree nature contrasts with the serious undertones of the journey, highlighting the innocence of childhood.

Character Dynamics

Gordie and Chris

Their relationship is central to the narrative. Gordie’s introspective nature contrasts with Chris’s street-smart toughness. Literary devices like dialogue and irony showcase their bond and mutual support, emphasizing themes of friendship and understanding.

Teddy and Vern

Teddy’s bravado and Vern’s comedic innocence create a dynamic that adds layers to the story. Their interactions provide comic relief but also underscore the different ways children cope with their struggles.

Thematic Analysis

Friendship and Loyalty

DialogueThe boys’ conversations reveal their deep bond and loyalty to one another.
SymbolismThe journey to find the body symbolizes their commitment to each other.

Loss and Grief

FlashbackGordie’s flashbacks to his brother highlight his ongoing grief.
ImageryDescriptions of the body and Gordie’s memories create a vivid picture of loss.

Innocence and Growing Up

JuxtapositionThe boys’ playful nature juxtaposed with the seriousness of their quest shows their transition from innocence to maturity.
IronyThe journey meant to find a dead body becomes a metaphor for their own personal growth.

Cinematic Techniques That Enhance Literary Devices

Literary DeviceTechniqueExplanation
NarrationVoiceoverGordie’s voiceover adds depth to the narrative, providing insight into his thoughts and emotions.
FlashbackVisual FlashbacksFlashbacks are seamlessly integrated into the film, offering background on characters’ pasts and motivations.
SymbolismVisual MetaphorsThe use of trains and tracks visually symbolizes the journey and challenges the boys face.
ImageryCinematographyVivid imagery, like the leeches scene, enhances the emotional impact and realism of the story.
DialogueClose-upsClose-up shots during important conversations highlight the emotional intensity and significance of the dialogue.

Key Scene Analysis

Scene: Encounter with the Train

Watch on YouTube

This scene is a masterclass in building tension and foreshadowing. The boys’ encounter with the train symbolizes the dangers and challenges they face. The use of close-ups, sound effects, and rapid editing enhances the suspense, making the audience feel the boys’ fear and urgency.

Scene: Chris’s Confession

Watch on YouTube

Chris’s confession about the stolen milk money is a pivotal moment that reveals his inner conflict and desire for redemption. The raw, emotional dialogue, coupled with the close-up shots of Chris’s face, underscores the depth of his character and the weight of his past mistakes.


Interactive Quiz

Question 1: What literary device is primarily used through Gordie’s voiceover?

Question 2: Which character provides comic relief in the film?

  • A) Gordie
  • B) Chris
  • C) Teddy
  • D) Vern

Question 3: How does the film use the symbol of the train tracks?

  • A) To represent danger
  • B) To symbolize the journey and challenges
  • C) As a source of comic relief
  • D) To highlight the era of the 1950s

Question 4: What theme is explored through Chris’s confession about the milk money?

  • A) Friendship
  • B) Loss
  • C) Redemption
  • D) Innocence