Everyone, no matter what age, wants acceptance; everyone wants to belong and have friends to share time and experiences with. And when you want to be a part of a particular group, it is sometimes easy to cave under peer pressure to make that happen. The school-age years, especially, are a time in our lives when peer pressure comes to bear, even if the peer pressure isn’t intentional or mean-spirited.
One member of Johnny’s J Gang, Mark, is a great example. It’s apparent in the story that Mark doesn’t feel the same intensity of vengeful emotions that Johnny feels for Nic. Yet, he remains a part of the J Gang, whose main goal throughout the story is to wreak havoc on Nic’s existence. Rather than challenge Johnny and tell him he doesn’t want to be a part of the antagonism, Mark routinely goes along for the ride with the rest of the J Gang. At one point in the story, however, Mark develops some compassion for Nic during one of their confrontational competitions and finally exhibits some free will when he lends his snow saucer to Nic.
Of course, there is what could be considered “kind” peer pressure, which has nothing to do with challenging your integrity or getting you in trouble. That’s the type of pressure put on someone to participate in something that could have a positive affect, yet the person feeling the pressure is lacking in confidence or self-esteem.
Some of Nic’s gang received peer pressure of this type during their more physically challenging activities, like the paintball wars. Herbert and Dante were generally the ones feeling questionable about their capabilities in the “war games” they played against Johnny and the J Gang. But with a little “pressure” from Nic or Kevin, they overcame their fears and insecurities.
We all have been there – feeling peer pressure at different points in our lives. The trick is determining whether the pressure (and your acquiescence) will be of benefit to you or have a detrimental affect on your life either now or sometime down that road we call life .