Whirligig Essay

Whirligig By Paul Fleischman Essay

In the novel Whirligig, by Paul Fleischman, Brent Bishop goes on the journey of his life. After becoming drunk and being humiliated at a party, Brent starts to drive home, but on the way, he decides to attempt suicide, resulting in the accidental murder of Lea Zamora, an 18 year old girl. Lea’s family is devastated, but Mrs. Zamora asks only one favor of Brent, to travel the country and build whirligigs in her daughter’s honor to spread the joy that Lea would have if she was still alive. Through Brent’s journey, the consequences that he encounters do wonders on changing his outlook on life as well as himself. Brent goes from a suicidal conformist to an artistic traveler all because of the negative consequences and the positive consequences that he experiences, and consequences that completely transform his life.

Many of Brent’s careless and violent actions have caused negative consequences. Brent starts the ball of bad consequences rolling when he goes to a party with his friend Jake. The night starts off bad and gets worse from there. Brent begins to drink, clouding his mind and affecting his judgement. He goes up to his crush Brianna while under the influence and starts to chafe her, causing her to get mad and begin yelling at him. Brent becomes severely depressed and suicidal, and he decides to try and kill himself while supposedly driving home. This is the first of many corollaries that Brent experiences. After his unsuccessful attempt to commit suicide, Brent is informed that he has killed Lea Zamora, an 18 year old girl who is a “...senior at Niles North High School, an honor student, ...volunteer at Resurrection Hospital. Why did he have to kill someone like that?”(35) When he hears this, Brent begins to feel a strong guilt, the result of murdering Lea. Brent is sent on a journey by Mrs. Zamora to build whirligigs as a memorial of Lea, causing him to begin to travel the country. During this journey, Brent periodically has to lie to strangers about his purpose of travel and his personality in general. “The lies were piling up: that he was a coffee drinker, a Canadian, and, most serious, that he was a mere tourist, not a convicted killer on a mission of repentance.” (69) All of these lies only pile up on his guilt. Guilt, lies, and murder aren’t the only negative consequences Brent faces. When Brent begins his journey, all of his friends and family bonds are severed, he is embarrassed and doesn’t want to see any of them again. “He changed buses again in Boston, where he had an aunt and uncle and cousins, none of whom he desired to see. They were his past.” (116) His once close family are now only distant memories from the past, yet another poor consequence. All of these consequences start right when he starts drinking. The consequences keep coming, every one of them severely affecting his life.

Even with all of the negative consequences, positive consequences have managed to cross Brent’s path. Before Brent kills Lea, He only puts a...

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Whirligig by Paul Fleischman

  • Length: 469 words (1.3 double-spaced pages)
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Do you think it’s possible to have a positive outcome after accidentally killing someone? It can happen, and this book shows you how. The message that the author sends is important, and the story is laid out in a unique way that makes it interesting to read.
After being humiliated at a party, 16-year-old Brent drives away intoxicated and makes the last minute decision to kill himself. Letting go of the wheel on a busy highway, he ends up killing someone else. The victim is another 16-year-old female named Lea. Her mother asks nothing else but for Brent to put up 4 whirligigs, one in each corner of the United States. Being that they were Lea’s favorite toys when she was younger, their purpose is to serve as monuments representing Lea’s ability to make people smile. With plywood, tools, a construction manual, and a bus pass, Brent sets out to build the whirligigs. In each of the 4 states, someone crosses the path of these monuments and learns a priceless lesson. After being inspired by the whirligig in Florida, a young Puerto Rican father learns an important lesson. It’s that people in a group can make good music or bad. A teenager and her dying grandmother make the best of their relationship after seeing the whirligig in San Diego, California. In Washington, an adopted boy realizes that his life is not so bad after all. And lastly, a young girl and her best friend are reunited in Maine. More important than the effect on others, however, are the lessons that Brent learns along the way. His life changing experience teaches him what is the central theme in the book, a theme that you would enjoy finding out for yourself.
Even though the story might seem ordinary at times, it allows you to look at the big picture, which is the most important aspect. The main character-Brent- displays characteristics that a lot of high school students can relate to; whether male or female. In his cross-country adventure through the U.S., exciting and unexpected moments never cease to amuse you. All kinds of people contribute to Brent’s change of attitude; one comment or story or facial expression at a time. And possibly the best part of it all is that you get all of this educational, amusing literature in only 133 pages.

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In this incredible story, a young man attempts suicide but ends up turning the situation around after a self-discovering journey across the country. Not only does he help himself, but also several people who cross his path. This is the proof that you can have a positive outcome from such a negative situation as accidentally killing someone. So, if you’re looking for an excellent book to read in a short period of time, read Whirligig by Paul Fleischman.



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