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Transcript of Teenage Wasteland
The title teenage wasteland is a reference to The Who’s song by the name “Baba O’Riley”, which is famous for its lyrics “Don't cry, Don't raise your eye, It's only teenage wasteland”. Although many interpretations exist for the meaning of these lyrics, one of the most popular, and relevant to the story is the idea that it is a satire against the ignorance of youth. The narrator of the song describes, fighting for his meals, as if he is by himself, and not needing to prove that he is right, because he knows he is. This parallels the plot of the story, as Donny uses Cal as his crutch to say that everyone else is “wrong”, “controlling”, or just “Doesn’t understand him.” One stanza of the song also emphasizes the need to live life “Before we get much older”, as demonstrated by Donny and many other of Cal’s students when the song first appears in the story.
~Basketball- Donny’s life
~Cal- irresponsible adult who did not mature, the Peter Pan figure, who enables his “lost boys” to act as children without apparent/immediate consequence. He abandoned his own controlled life with his wife for a life of frivolity and no adult responsibility. This is possible foreshadowing for Donny’s abandonment of his own family, as well as what could become of Donny.
~Teenage Wasteland Song- represents Donny’s lack of purpose as well as Daisy’s missed opportunities with him
~Colour of Donny’s Hair- Darkens over time, as situation becomes more dire
~Cal’s home- The house is a “wasteland” for the children who are lost and confused, and Cal allows the kids to enjoy their youth without having to worry about growing up. This leads the kids to be more irresponsible and they soon lose their sense of good judgement. Neverland in the Peter Pan parallel.
Cautionary, cynical. Some other attitudes that the author is expressing are earnestness, seriousness, bitterness, and humorous.
Additional Literary Elements
~Mood- The choice of setting, objects, details, images, and words all contribute towards creating a specific mood. For example, an author may create a mood of mystery around a character or setting but may treat that character or setting in an ironic, serious, or humorous tone.
~Allusion- Cal is representing Peter Pan and the Peter Pan complex. Cal is a childish adult that avoids any responsibility that is handed to him, and he is promoting the same lifestyle to his followers.
~Imagery- (creating an image) blond, shorter, taffy-colored, white, little aqua blue,
(creating emotional value) endearing, unusual, jogged, sharp new.
~Metaphors- “Cowlicks, hung in lank taffy colored ropes, jogged in his throat.” Cal and his house represented temptations of consequences of not accepting the reality or the truth,
Don't raise your eye
It's only teenage wasteland
Sally, take my hand
We'll travel south cross land
Put out the fire
And don't look past my shoulder.
The exodus is here
The happy ones are near
Let's get together
Before we get much older.
It's only teenage wasteland.
- Song tells of ways to waste away youth, but is a satire against it
- Daisy's ignoring Amanda to focus on Donny who she neglected early in Amanda’s infancy
- Daisy and Matt sitting on the principal's couch like two bad children
- the comment that Cal has considerable psychological training
- Donny telling his parents they act like wardens
- Cal accusing Daisy of being controlling
- Cal turning against Daisy
- Cal criticizing the school
Setting: America in the 1970’s. Urban environment.
Central Conflict and Resolution: Neither Donny of his mother will own up to their misdoings,causing a huge wedge between the family, and Donny’s descent into delinquency.
Characters, Protagonist and antagonist:
~Mr. Lanham antagonist
~Cal (can’t be the antagonist to Donny’s protagonist since he only lends to Donny’s misbehavior.)
Even though Donny isn’t completely “good” nor the narrator of the story, he is the protagonist because the story’s plot is centralized around him. The actions of his mother and the principle resist what he wants, making them the antagonists.
~Exposition- Mother was originally a fourth grade teacher, Donny seemed to starve for attention when his sister was born.
~Rising Action- Meeting Cal, using cal as an excuse for his actions
~Climax- Donny is expelled
~Falling Action- No longer employ cal, transfer to a public school
~Resolution- Donny runs away
Theme: In any relationship, it is essential that both parties commit equally to the nurturing of that relationship and take responsibility for their own actions. Understanding and communication play an indispensable role in achieving a healthy appreciation of each other’s needs and subsequently, a satisfying and happy family life, unlike the family in this story.
POV: 3rd person limited
Method of Development
Method of Development: Seeing the story only through the eyes of Daisy gives the reader an obstructed view of what is happening in the story. This lends to the theme, because it becomes apparent that Daisy will not own up to her own misdoings in Donny’s development or try to understand what her son is feeling. She blames everyone else and still lets these people control her, such as how she easily believes that Cal has Donny’s best interest in heart by telling her to let him do whatever he wants. She then blames Donny for this, saying that its due to him she had to give up all her luxuries and free time to spend with her other child. And even when discussing her own problems as a parent she blames herself for being a failure by genetic makeup so she can not control her lack of aptitude. At the end of the story it becomes evident that the pattern with Donny will only continue with his sister since she stays away from home as long as possible.
Anne Tyler is an American novelist born on October 25, 1941, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While in college, she studied with writer Reynolds Price. She has written almost two dozen novels since 1964. Perhaps her best known novel was The Accidental Tourist (1985), which was made into a movie in 1988 starring William Hurt and Geena Davis. Tyler has won numerous awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award and a Pulitzer Prize.