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 begin with, thanks to a foundation in the Boy Scouts and idolization of the Wonderful Weiner man. At the tender age of nine Buddy is a proud member of the Boy Scouts, but his troop is a typical set of third-grade bullies. While waiting for the Weiner Man, the troop picks on a mentally-challenged boy, but a nerdy member of the troop protests. His protest is followed by Buddy’s request to “Leave him alone”; this shocks his troop out of bullying the boy (Perrotta 7). This small act of standing up for Kazoo shows that Buddy is compassionate and knows right from wrong; but this act is comical and ironic because immediately following his righteous defense, he lets his troop beat up the nerd without saying a word. So begins Buddy’s first steps towards following the wrong crowd. According to WebMD, children may be naturally equipped with an “inner strength,” or “resilience,” which allows them to appropriately handle “stressful situations” (WebMD). Buddy has that inkling of inner strength, but due to his pa…
…aracter is reflected in his thoughts rather than his actions (or lack thereof). Perrotta takes the ever-prevalent presence of peer pressure and writes about it in a humorous yet heartfelt way, allowing the reader to understand and empathize with Buddy, and teenagers as a whole.
“Helping Your Child Build Inner Strength-What Is Inner Strength?” WebMD – BetterInformation. Better Health. Healthwise, 10 Feb. 2010. Web. 09 Jan. 2011..
Heubeck, Elizabeth. “Teen Peer Pressure: Raising a Peer Pressure-Proof Child.” WebMD – BetterInformation. Better Health. Web. 07 Jan. 2011. .
Perrotta, Tom. Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies. New York, NY: Berkley, 1997. Print.