Seventeen

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Seventeen

“Seventeen”

is a novel written by Booth Tarkington and published in 1916. It is a coming-of-age story that follows the protagonist, William Sylvanus Baxter, as he navigates his last year of high school and experiences the ups and downs of adolescence in a small town in Indiana.

The novel is set in the early 1900s, a time when social norms and expectations were changing rapidly in America. William, or “Willie” as he is often called, is a typical 17-year-old boy, full of energy and enthusiasm, but also plagued by self-doubt and confusion about his place in the world. He is in love with a girl named Lola Pratt, a beautiful and popular girl in his school, but he is too shy and awkward to express his feelings to her.

The novel is divided into four parts, each one corresponding to a season of the year. The first part, “The Springtime of Love,” introduces the reader to Willie and his family, as well as to Lola and her circle of friends. Willie is a member of a social club called “The Owls,” which is made up of other boys from his school. The Owls are obsessed with a game called “Mystic Circle,” which involves wandering around town at night and trying to avoid being caught by the “watchers,” a group of older boys who are trying to catch them.

Willie’s infatuation with Lola grows stronger as the novel progresses, but he is continually thwarted in his attempts to get closer to her. Lola is a popular girl who seems to have no shortage of suitors, and Willie feels out of his depth in her presence. He is also hampered by his own shyness and lack of social skills.

The second part of the novel, “The Summer of Love,” sees Willie and his family travel to a summer resort in Michigan. There, Willie continues to pine for Lola, but he also meets a new girl named Marjorie, who is visiting the resort with her family. Marjorie is older and more experienced than Willie, and he is both attracted to her and intimidated by her. The two of them begin a flirtation that lasts throughout the summer, but it never develops into anything more serious.

The third part of the novel, “The Autumn of Love,” sees Willie back in his hometown and starting his senior year of high school. He is still in love with Lola, but he is also beginning to realize that his feelings for her may be based more on infatuation than on any real connection between them. He becomes involved in a school play, in which Lola is also a participant, and he finds himself drawn to the girl who plays the female lead, a quiet and intelligent girl named Jane.

The final part of the novel, “The Winter of Love,” brings the story to its conclusion. Willie has grown and matured over the course of the year, and he has come to see that his feelings for Lola were based on an idealized image of her rather than on who she really was. He has also come to appreciate the qualities of Jane, who has become his friend and confidante. In the end, Willie realizes that he is not yet ready for a serious romantic relationship, but he is excited about the future and all the possibilities it holds.

“Seventeen” is a classic coming-of-age story that captures the spirit of adolescence with humor, warmth, and insight. Tarkington’s portrayal of small-town life in America at the turn of the century is both nostalgic and realistic, and his characters are drawn with a keen eye for detail and nuance. The novel is a celebration of youth and all its joys and sorrows, and it remains a beloved classic of American literature

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