Todd from “Apt Pupil” by Stephen King

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In Apt Pupil, the main character, Todd, is a 13 year old boy who is fascinated and obsessed with the violent and gruesome details of the holocaust. He finds out that his neighbor, Dussander, was a nazi commander in a concentration camp during WWII, and through intimidation and exploitation, todd forces Dussander to relive his past as he tells him stories of what went on around the camp.

This caused Todd’s evil side to control his thoughts and become paranoid, eventually becoming so evil he enjoyed killing. While Todd started off as an Apt pupil, he turned into a murderer in the end. The extreme contrast of Todd’s personality and behavior from before and after he had met Dussander, factors in the relationship between them, and the psychological factors of authority. From intelligence to interests, Todd Bowden was always very different from his friends.“It was an adult thought and he always mentally congratulated himself when he had one of those. (P. 112).

When searching and reading through popular comics, todd was able to get his hands onto certain magazines, allowing himself to learn and become obsessed with WWII. That’s when he knew he had found the greatest interest. In this very moment, he was aware of his own skill, intelligence and power. Throughout the book, Todd needed something from Dussander, and that was for him to be able to tell him as much detail as he can remember from the concentration camps, allowing Todd to gain as much information as possible.

This became the initial reason for why Todd had to create a trap for Dussander. “Why…I want to hear about it. That’s all. That’s all I want. Really.” “Hear about it?” Dussander echoed. He looked utterly perplexed. Todd leaned forward, tanned elbows on blue jeaned [sic] knees. “Sure. The firing squads. The gas chambers. The ovens. The guys who had to dig their own graves and then stand on the ends so they’d fall into them. The…” His tongue came out and wetted his lips. “The examinations. The experiments. Everything. All the gooshy stuff.” (King, 1982, p. 127)

The milgram experiment comes into play, when stanley milgram wanted to investigate if germans were obedient to authority figures due to fear, and decided to test how far people would go in obeying a simple instruction from an authority, even if it involved harming others. He conducted an experiment which placed one participant in a fixed setting, where he/she would always land as the teacher, and would ask the learner a question.

The learner was taken into a room and the participant was led to believe he would be attached to a machine that would shock them for every question they had wrong, ranging from 15 volts to 450 volts. 65% of the participants, continued to the 450 volts, and 100% of the participants continued to 300 volts. This concluded that ordinary people would follow orders given by an authority figure, due to multiple factors. Dussander, being so vulnerable and having his life brought up, he became an easy target for Todd as he was already being threatened to be exposed. Because he was hiding under a different name, he needed to remain hidden, and the only way to do so was to follow Todd’s instructions.

Though Todd was much younger than Dussander, he still held a lot of power over his head. (elaborate, insert evidence and detail) Dussander acted as authority, and his nightmares changed todd’s reality. Dussander also haed being dominated by todd. So, he also tricked todd into believing that he saved evidence of their friendship. Todd dreams of being a victim. “And there will come a time if I live long enough, when i will decide what you know, no longer matters. Then I will destroy the document”.

Each story told about the concentration camp impacted todd. When dussander went over his control, todd wasn’t happy about the change. So, he had no choice but to find others to dominate. Todd learned that power came from authority, so he realized that violence could allow him to control anything/anyone. Dussander had him under his control. Dussander also became less afraid of death as his need for todd’s relationship became less necessary. “Iv looked death in the face, and it frightens me but not as badly as i thought it would”. There were major problems in todd’s home, and this led to todd’s disobedience against authority.

Todd learned to suppress his emotions, thus leading him to think nasty thoughts of killing his own parents. “He felt a mad urge to take the 30.30 back into the house and shoot both of his parents and then go down to the slope overlooking the freeway. (p.221). After building their what seemed to be a one-sided friendship, it ended up only being a continuous tug for their own needs, as they both needed each other, and had evidence against each other. “He (dussander) and the boy (Todd) were loathsome, he supposed, feeding off each other… eating each other.” (Stephen king, p. 150). Todd wants to control of Dussander but is secretly afraid that he would go beyond his control one day.

So, in order to be on top of the whole situation, Todd lied to dussander claiming he had left his friend a letter revealing dussander’s identity. Even though there were very obvious hatred between them, they also benefited from each other, and helped each other while in a crisis.

Cite this paper

Todd from “Apt Pupil” by Stephen King. (2021, Dec 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/todd-from-apt-pupil-by-stephen-king/

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