Essay about Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies by Tom Perrotta

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Everyone faces varying degrees of peer pressure at least once in their lifetime, but what matters is how one reacts. In Bad Haircut—a collection of short stories—the author, Tom Perrotta, examines the effect of peer pressure on the main character, Buddy, in a comical yet informative light. Buddy faces peer pressure consistently and ends up associating with the wrong people, due to a lack of backbone. Yet Buddy is different and a better person than those who he associates with because he is compassionate and able to recognize that he is a follower; therein lies the irony that only the reader sees Buddy’s merit while the other characters only see the results of his friends’ poor judgment. Buddy’s sense of right from wrong is strong to…show more content…
What is also ironic is the fact that Buddy is a part of the Boy Scouts, something that’s supposed to be instilling America’s best values in young men, yet his troop is far from “America’s best.” This is a reoccurring theme in Bad Haircut, whereby Buddy associates himself with groups that are supposed to have a good reputation, but instead are spoiled by bad people. During his teenage years, little had changed for Buddy and his choice of friends. One would think that a good but weak child would overcome his difficulties, but instead of progressing from his small act of bravado during Boy Scouts, Buddy’s reputation and friend choices went south. After a dance Buddy follows his friends along for a race riot, conspiring with the likes of people like “Rat Man” and Norman LaVerne, famed for running over a cat “with a lawn mower” (Perrotta 50). Even though the riot gets broken up, Buddy still manages to weasel his way back into a sticky situation. Once the plan is set to steal an African-American boy’s basketball, Buddy doesn’t “object, even though I had to do the dirty work” (Perrotta 63). Buddy does exactly what he’s told and steals the basketball, just like a little drone should. But the reader sees his compassion right after he steals the ball because Buddy “couldn’t shake the feeling that I held his head in my hand” (Perrotta 64). His guilt and contemplation are further expressed once he comes home late for curfew with the basketball and faces his

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