| Quote #1
Young John T. Unger, who had just turned sixteen, had danced all the latest dances from New York before he put on long trousers. And now, for a certain time, he was to be away from home. That respect for a New England education which is the bane of all provincial places, which drains them yearly of their most promising young men, had seized upon his parents. Nothing would suit them but that he should go to St. Midas' School near Boston—Hades was too small to hold their darling and gifted son. (1.2)
Age is an important part of John's character – we join him just as he turns sixteen, and so we expect that this story will be as much about the tribulations of youth as anything else.
| Quote #2
John T. Unger was on the eve of departure. Mrs. Unger, with maternal fatuity, packed his trunks full of linen suits and electric fans, and Mr. Unger presented his son with an asbestos pocket-book stuffed with money. (1.4)
This opening suggests a coming-of-age tale. It's important that John is leaving home at the start of the text. His parents pack him off with supplies, and we expect that his journey will be metaphorical as well as literal.
| Quote #3
"That's nothing." Percy had leaned forward and dropped his voice to a low whisper. "That's nothing at all. My father has a diamond bigger than the Ritz-Carlton Hotel." (1.25)
At first, it's hard to take Percy seriously – and this is in part because we remember that he's a teenager trying to impress his friend. Age plays a big part on John's character, too, but in Percy's as well.