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For Which of the Boys Essay

The boy that I felt the most sympathy for in The History Boys would have to be Posner. The portrayal of his character compared to that of the other boys is entirely different. Throughout the play, Posner is shown to be an outsider; “too young” to understand most things, and even to be included in Hector’s inappropriate behaviour. It is evident from the start that Posner has feelings towards Dakin, however Dakin’s behaviour towards Posner is far from romantic, hence we can sense that he doesn’t return the romantic feelings that Posner so desperately desires.

This immediately creates sympathy for him, as it shows that he has no hope of happiness with the person whom he clearly loves. As the play progresses and develops, we can see that Posner is confused about his sexuality and is tormented by the idea that he’ll never fit in anywhere. He confesses his feelings and worries to Irwin who sympathises, however this does nothing to comfort Posner. As the other boys begin to change their attitudes towards life and learning, Posner seems to remain the same and spend more time with Hector.

This could be viewed as very odd behaviour, as the other boys seem keen to avoid any time alone with Hector due to his ephebophilia. This, again, highlights the fact that Posner is extremely lonely and confused, therefore is willing to seek comfort with even the most inappropriate of people. When the disastrous event of the motorcycle accident happens at the end of the play, we are given an insight into just how much it affected the boys in years to come.

While it seems that the others have moved on in life, Posner is described to have “periodic breakdowns” and to have been the only one that “truly took everything to heart”. This proves that Posner was really affected by those particular years of his life, despite the fact that he was never directly targeted by Hector. Overall, Posner is presented as a confused, lonely character which generates large amounts of sympathy from the audience.


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