An intellectual gifted boy goes to a prestigious boarding school and meets a rebellious friend who changes his outlook on life. Hans Giebenrath is a gifted student who has to decide what he wants out of life. At the beginning of the book, Hans lives in a small town in Germany with his father, who puts a lot of pressure to study and do well on his exams, in order to be accepted to a prestigious boarding school. Hans is nervous about doing well on his exams, but he genuinely likes the subjects he studies, especially the German, Latin, and Greek languages. He gets very good scores on his exams and is accepted to a boarding school, which he attends. At the boarding school, he meets a classmate names Hermann Heilner, who is the polar opposite of Hans. Hermann is a rebellious dreamer who does not take his studies very seriously. He shows Hans that there is another side of life besides doing well in school and fearing social rejection if one does not succeed in one's studies. Hans and Hermann form a deep friendship and even share a kiss. Shortly thereafter, Hermann is expelled from the school for misbehavior, and Hans withdraws from the school after suffering a nervous breakdown. Hermann is later found dead in an apparent suicide. Hans returns to his hometown, feeling lost in the world. He takes a job as an apprentice blacksmith, but he finds manual labor unsatisfying. At the end of the book, he meets a local girl, and they begin a relationship.
Best part of story, including ending:
I liked this story because Hans and Hermann become friends, even though they are so different.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene was the night before Hans' exams, because it showed how challenging and rigorous school exams were in Germany in the early twentieth century.
Opinion about the main character:
I identified with Hans because he likes languages and because he spent much of the book seeking a real friend.