Old School By Tobias Wolff And The Lords Of Discipline Essay

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Though the novels Old School by Tobias Wolff and The Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy each portray a young male narrator’s experience at all-male, private schools in the 1960s, the two schools they portray are of entirely different natures. The unnamed school in Old School is an academically focused, small, liberal-arts style college preparatory school in the northeast while the Carolina Military Institute of The Lords of Discipline is a rugged, military based school in Charleston, South Carolina. These obvious differences between the two schools create social environments of opposite extremes: the unnamed school in Old School fosters an environment of individual isolation through competition, while the Institute uses fear to create an environment of extreme conformity and collectivism in which the students are stripped of their individuality.

The students at the unnamed school in Old School live in an environment characterized by enhanced rivalry, causing them to avoid forming supportive friendships with other students. The combination of the all-male environment and the pressure of the competitions held by the school creates an overly-competitive atmosphere which separates the students from each other and inhibits the formation of friendships among them. The inherit sexism present in the 1960s effects the separation of the boys as well, as “the absence of an actual girl to compete for meant that every other prize became feminized” (15), driving the boys to view the…

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