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Gene describes it as an empty sort of place with an academic coldness about it,
"...burned down and rebuilt several times but still known as the First Building of the Devon School. It contained only classrooms and so at this hour was perfectly empty, which made us stealthier than ever. Brinker’s many keys, surviving from his class-officer period, jingled softly as we reached the main door. Above us in Latin flowed the inscription, Here Boys Come to Be Made Men."
Note the last line in the quote. The irony is stinging. These boys were on the edge of manhood yet so far from the maturity that makes a man. Here Brinker forces an impromptu court-martial that has nothing to do with learning or becoming a man.