The Instructions Summary & Study Guide

Adam Levin
This Study Guide consists of approximately 31 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Instructions.
This section contains 572 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Instructions Summary & Study Guide Description

The Instructions Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on The Instructions by Adam Levin.

The Instructions is the pre-adolescent story of Gurion ben-Judah Maccabee, a precocious and prolix Jewish boy of 10 whose supercharged brain seems to function on caffeine and to focus on endless trivia.

The energy in The Instructions is essentially inward-looking rather than expansionist——the dark self-obsession of the adolescent fixated on his own inward emotional struggles rather than those involving other people, as in marriage, politics, war or the arts. The Instructions introduces a number of important and interesting themes, such as the psychology of religion and the struggles of adolescents to find their own values.

Much of the action tends to involve gang fights, adolescent rivalries, the arrival of puberty and dawn of sexual feelings, the search for modern-day answers to spiritual dilemmas within the ancient tradition of Judaism, conflicts with adults and attitudes toward school. Gurion Macabee is convinced he is the messiah, or at least he has a better than 50-50 chance of being the real messiah. Gurion is fiercely intelligent but an apathetic student, a scholar of Judiasm who is agnostic and a loner whom other adolescents view as a leader. He has within himself the seeds of potential greatness, as well as seeds of possible destruction. Despite, or perhaps because of his multiple inconsistencies, Gurion is a likeable figure who embodies the struggles of most young people coming into adolescence. His combination of jadedness and inquisitive innocence is charming.

Gurion becomes the leader of a Jewish gang at Aptakisic Junior High School in suburban Chicago known as the Side of Damage. Like most adolescent gangs, this group provides members with a sense of identity and unity in facing rival groups, such as the Shovers. As a focal point for adolescent angst and rebellion, the Side of Damage under Gurion's leadership arms itself for an insurrection against school authorities and other rival gangs. Most of the members of the Side of Damage are kids with behavioral problems who are consigned to the Cage, a locked prison-like area within the school where repeat offenders study and have classes. In instigating and leading this insurrection against their captors, Gurion and the Side of Damage recapitulate the biblical story of Moses leading the Hebrews out of slavery in Egypt. Gurion ponders deeply whether he is the modern-day messiah and concludes his odds are about 50/50. His followers have no doubts, however, that he is their savior.

Members of this Jewish (or, Israelite) gang fashion "penny guns" or advanced slingshot devices made from discarded soda bottles. The devices are used to fire coins, wing nuts, writing nibs and other small projectiles; they are powerful and can inflict a lot of pain and sometimes serious injury, as when they strike an eyeball, for example. The Side of Damage stages a rebellion focused in the gymnasium where students, teachers, administrators and even parents become embroiled in a violent donnybrook. The uprising is so severe that police and fire teams are dispatched, as well as plenty of TV live-at-the-scene crews. The rebels take a number of hostages, including a hapless gym instructor named Desormie. As the original Side of Damage awaits the arrival of hundreds of "scholars" summoned from other schools, they are confronted with police demands to surrender. The scholars arrive but are prevented by police from joining their compatriots. Outnumbered and slipping into battle fatigue, the rebellious students finally surrender to police as they march out of the building.

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This section contains 572 words
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