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Teenage Wasteland

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Alexandra Tikka

on 10 September 2013

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Transcript of Teenage Wasteland

Teenage Wasteland
Anne Tyler

Setting
1970's suburbia
Donny's private school
where Donny befriends negative influences and displays his rebellion against society and his parents
Cal's house/office
Donny's home away from home; gives Donny a sense of self-worth and excuses his misdeeds; acts as an escape; a literal "teenage wasteland"
Donny's home
where Donny was raised
the foundation for Donny's lacking self esteem and self worth
acts as the foundation for his rebellion
Conflict & Resolution
The central conflict of this story is Donny’s struggle into adolescence. He is rebellious toward the rules of the school by smoking, drinking, misbehaving, and making no effort in school. After Donny solidifies his teenage rebellion and gets expelled from his private school, his parents enroll him in a public high school. Donny ends the conflict by running away from his home and is never seen by his family again.
Characters
Donny Coble:
A rebellious, self-indulgent teenager whose behavior reflects the teachings of his parents.
Daisy Coble:
Donny's mother; a self-conscious housewife whose overbearing and controlling nature leads her son down a path of self-destruction
Cal:
Donny's tutor who specializes in psychology; a teenager at heart. He encourages Donny to continue living a detrimental life and promotes this lifestyle by having his "teenage wasteland" living room/office be a safe getaway for teenagers
Donny's Father:
a lanky, hard-working accountant who neglects his children unintentionally. He is scarcely mentioned in the story, which shows his absence from his children's lives
Amanda:
Donny's younger sister; neglected by her parents due to their preoccupation with Danny and who is likely to follow Donny's lifestyle
Miriam:
Donny's trouble-making girlfriend, who, due to Donny's distant relationship with his parents, is largely left unexplored
Situational Irony
Daisy hires Cal to tutor Donny and help improve his grades, but instead Donny fails his classes and gets expelled after being influenced by Cal
Instead of the parents disciplining Donny, Cal gives the parents rules to follow and lets Donny have free will
When Daisy puts forth effort to help improve Donny’s behavior and well being, her actions result in his disappearance
Tone
The tone in "Teenage Wasteland" is cautious, cynical, and morose. Throughout the story, Anne Tyler is criticizing how adolescents are being raised and the influences they encounter during their teenage years. The author also displays a concern for the troubled and hopeless teenagers who lose themselves during this difficult period of their lives.
Method of Development
In "Teenage Wasteland" , the storyline develops as Donny's character descends into a downward spiral. As Donny's schoolwork and social life progressively get worse, the storyline furthers in development.
Point of View
Third Person Limited
The narrator has insight to Daisy's thoughts and emotions, but not Donny's
"Daisy wondered what she would say to him. She felt him looming closer and closer, bringing this brand-new situation that no one had prepared her to handle."
"At home, Donny didn't act much different. He still seemed to have a low opinion of his parents. But Daisy supposed that was unavoidable – part of being fifteen."

Anne Tyler
Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on October 25th, 1941. She attended both Duke University and Columbia University, and is a Pulitzer Prize winner for her novel "Breathing Lessons".
Summary
Donny, a troubled fifteen year old student enrolled in private school, has been partaking in poor behavior at school such as cutting classes, letting his grades slip, smoking cigarettes, and drinking on campus. His mother, Daisy meets with the principal multiple times and is finally referred to a tutor with psychological experience named Cal. Cal is described to have similar features and personality traits to Donny. Donny immediately confides in Cal, who allows him to have tutoring sessions at his home where other teenagers, like Donny, go to play basketball, hang out, party and listen to loud to music. His house is essentially a “teenage wasteland”. For a short period of time, Donny’s behavior and grades improve but he becomes more hostile toward his parents, especially Daisy. Cal says that Donny has low self esteem and insists that Daisy give Donny more privileges to ensure his happiness. Daisy reluctantly agrees. One day one of Donny’s teachers calls Daisy about his dropping grades. Daisy informs Cal about Donny’s lack of improvement but Cal reassures her that his happiness and self esteem are top priority and his grades will follow. Daisy trusts Cal. Months later, Daisy receives a call from Donny’s school that he has been expelled from school for having beer and cigarettes in his locker. Daisy waits at the house for Donny but he never comes home. She finally calls Cal to ask where he is only to find out that Donny had called a cab to Cal’s house because he did not feel he would be listened to at his own home. After having a conference with Cal, Daisy decides to have Donny transferred to a public school. At Donny’s new school, he is earning decent grades but is making no friends. One day Donny vanishes and is never seen by his family again. His whole family is negatively affected by his disappearance; his parents have significantly aged, his younger sister, Amanda, who has been neglected throughout the entire story due to Donny’s troubles, stays away from home as much as possible, and Daisy is tormented by her regrets as a parent.
Dramatic Irony
Daisy, after giving birth to Amanda, begins to neglect Donny unknowingly. This lack of attention when Donny was young fuels his false sense of self-worth and rebellion during his teenage years. As Donny grows up and Daisy becomes preoccupied with his needs as a troubled teenager, she begins to neglect Amanda, who will likely follow in Donny's unhealthy footsteps as a result.
Theme
Family values at home have a direct impact on the lifestyle choices children make growing up; lack of proper parental guidance will cause children to fill the void of feeling neglected in alternative and unhealthy ways.

Donny's parents adored him, but he often felt forgotten as a child because his parents were busy taking care baby Amanda. Since he grew up in a household in which he did not feel important, he began to rebel as a means of quelling his lack of self-worth.
Donny begins to slack off in school and shows typical signs of apathy
Donny's parents hire Cal to help Donny do better in school
Donny enters Cal's "teenage wasteland" and begins to adopt Cal as his fatherly figure because Cal fails to discipline him and tells him things he wants to hear
Donny gets expelled from school
Donny is enrolled into a another high school, and although his grades are improving, he doesn't make new friends
Donny runs away from home and is never seen by his family again
Plot
In the story, Cal is described as being an older version of Donny due to their similar outward appearances.

The basketball hoop in the end of the story symbolizes Donny's descent from his wholesome childhood to his teenage years as the ball falls through the hoop.
Symbolism
The "Teenage Wasteland" soundtrack by The Who
Allusion
Full transcript