Hey besties (as I’m told the kids say),
It’s officially Watty season, and as to not procrastinate I decided to write my 750 word summary and begin shipping it out for feedback. Comments would be appreciated, and I was thinking that if other people had their summaries ready as well, we could all share and give feedback on each other’s.
Frank spends the majority of his freshman year at Heller High School doing minor good deeds, finding loopholes to get out of work, and wryly observing the foibles of his peers and teachers. When a friend tries to convince him that there’s nothing anyone can do to make their high school a more humanistic place, Frank takes that as a dare; the opportunity strikes to win the argument when his friend Juliet suggests he is so wise that he should mentor all his classmates. Naturally, Frank’s first instinct is to write a satirical manifesto that highlights exactly what would make his classmates good people compared to their current self-absorbed state. When his manifesto catches on, its satirical intent largely ignored, Frank goes bigger and founds a club based on its principles.
The club begins sophomore year, where Frank’s draconian curriculum tests his peers’ limits of how willing they are to improve; Frank finds it increasingly hard to break character and maintain his original charitable intent. Despite its cultish characteristics, the club proves remarkably capable at teaching students academic skills and philosophy, and he finds that it has integrated itself into many of his friends’ social lives.
At the end of sophomore year, Frank runs for student council to expand his influence; he delivers a gloating, bombastic speech complete with air guitar, and wins by virtue of being the only candidate for his position. This happens concurrently with Juliet earning a promotion to club secretary: Frank appraises her devotion, gullibility, and academic prowess as advantageous for the club, and chooses to not tell her his original satirical intent. Over the summer, when Frank stumbles into her and her friends for an impromptu birthday celebration, he casually promotes her to vice president, seeing this as an opportunity to buy her eternal complicity with an empty gesture.
Frank’s new initiative as class secretary is to, with the help of his club co-conspirators and the school administration, tackle the vaping epidemic by selling students expensive placebos, having the convenient secondary motivation of lining the club’s pockets. Frank’s peers become aghast at the club’s involvement in the placebo debacle when the truth comes out, while Frank is too distracted by his success to care. He and Juliet begin to form a more proper friendship with their increased time spent together, and he chooses to run for school president with her as his running mate to ensure his club’s ideological dominance. Juliet begins to find her friends think she’s too trusting of Frank, and that she’s abandoning them in favor of what his club promises; she discusses this with Frank, who insists that she not put the club above her existing friendships, but she still chooses to align herself with him.
That summer, the administration gladly lets Frank and his cronies take control over school policy senior year, making club principles school policy. This demands a celebratory lunch with Juliet, the only other invested councilmember, where he realizes that she is romantically interested in him. This disproves his belief that she and his classmates truly wish to improve themselves without ulterior motivation; Frank vows to play dumb, not wishing to concede defeat.
Implementing club principles school-wide, including a new caste system derived from Brave New World, proves an unpopular move, and while student protests are no threat to his administration’s stability, they reveal the extent to which Frank has sacrificed his popularity and goodwill to make his vision a reality. He is also forced to confront his cronies’ abuse of their authority, ranging from verbally abusing their underlings to using the security cameras to spy on people, all while he insists that his campaign serves a higher purpose that simply needs more time to come true. Frank feels guilty and confesses to Juliet his original intent for the club, talking valiantly about the power of satire to critique society, but finds her unbothered by his deception; she is happy to “be evil” and unwavering in her devotion.
Frank marshals his club resources to throw an extravaganza of a senior prom, hoping to make amends with his classmates and prove something good could come out of the mess he made; while successful in pleasing his classmates, Frank remains unconvinced he’s given himself the proper high school experience. At graduation, Frank delivers an impassioned speech exhorting everyone to move on and seek brighter futures away from Heller, and leaves in a tentative relationship with Juliet, despite his lingering fear she is even more immoral than he is.