The Go-Between Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Go-Between

A preteen boy helps his friend's older sister deliver exchange messages with her boyfriend. Leo is a boarding school student who has to help an rich older girl continue a secret romantic relationship with a working class boy of whom her parents disapprove. Leo goes to spend part of summer vacation at the country home of Marcus, his friend from boarding school. Leo's mother gives him lots of advice about how to behave while visiting Marcus, because Marcus comes from a wealthier family than Leo, and Leo's mother, like much of Victorian society, is status conscious, but Leo is less concerned about status and manners than he is about the fact that the twentieth century is just beginning and that he is about to turn thirteen. At Marcus' house, Leo meets Marcus' mother, who has very strict rules about table manners and dress. He also meets Marcus' older brother and his nineteen-year-old sister Marian, whom he really admires because of her beauty and elegance. The weather gets hotter and hotter, and one day it is 100 degrees, but Marcus' mother still insists that everyone wear formal clothing at meals. When Marcus gets sick, Marian has the opportunity to talk to Leo privately, and she asks him to deliver a letter to a young man named Ted, who works on a farm near Marian's house, and Leo agrees because he likes Marian so much. Leo continues to help Marian and Ted exchange letters even after Marcus recovers from his illness. He eventually figures out that they are in love, but there are many things about their behavior he does not understand, such as Marian's sudden anger when Leo makes a remark he considers innocent, and Ted's off-color joke about a pregnant horse. One night, Leo finds Marian and Ted together, and it is clear to the reader that they are having sex, even though Leo the narrator is very naive about sex. Ted's reputation is ruined forever, but Marian goes on to marry a gentlemen her parents have chosen for her. Years later, Leo goes to visit Marian, and he learns that her husband and both of her brothers were killed in the First World War.
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Best part of story, including ending: I liked the story because it showed how different life was in 1900.

Best scene in story: My favorite scene was where Leo and the other males in Marcus' house go to look at the thermometer and see that it is 100 degrees outside, because this makes Leo feel like an adult and a gentleman.

Opinion about the main character: I like Leo because he is innocent and observant.

The review of this Book prepared by Jennifer Tobkin a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of The Go-Between

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   thoughtful Time/era of story    -   1900-1920's Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Age group of kid(s) in story:    -   grade school Loving/sexing?    -   guy chasing

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   student Ethnicity/Nationality    -   British


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   4 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   England/UK Farm/Ranch?    -   Yes Misc setting    -   fancy mansion

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Weird Victorian/Shakespearean English?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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L.P. Hartley Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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