The novel spans six years in the life of an English lad named Tom- from the wild imaginings of his eleven-year-old mind to the tortuous ruthlessness of his seventeenth summer before his admission to Oxford on a scholarship. There is a great deal of rather amusing early adolescent sexuality, a father image gambit which fixes on several available males including a latent homosexual vicar, a question answered with Tom peeping in the window- as to whose seed sired him. The scene implies a search for real meaning; ""he had eaten away his own guts in an attempt to preserve he knew not what for he had no aim... the world was a husk- and he had eaten its kernel."" Oh Tom, poor Tom, Mama vexed him with an identity hang-up and he's feeling so sad. Another problem boy, another dull novel.