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Teenage Wasteland

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Naz Hartoonian

on 15 September 2014

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Transcript of Teenage Wasteland

The central theme of this story is that societal pressure on teenagers decreases their self-esteem as well as their self-worth. The theme is developed through the parent’s restrictions placed on Donny, which, in turn, causes him to feel underestimated. Daisy helps develop the theme because she is the one who makes him feel constrained and pressured. Daisy consistently tried to control Donny’s actions for the sake of his well-being without realizing that she was actually stripping his freedom from him. For example: “Cal’s first bill sent a flutter of panic through Daisy’s chest, but [she thought] it was worth it” (38) however Donny “said that his parents were too ‘controlling’. [His] parents acted like wardens [and] on weekends, they enforced a curfew.” (38)
Central Theme
Main Characters
The main characters include Daisy, Calvin, and Donny.
Teenage Wasteland
Conflicts, Protagonist, and Antagonists
The conflicts presented in this story include man v. man (Donny v. Daisy), man v. self (Daisy v. self), and man v. society (Donny v. societal pressure [as in school and parents]).
The
main conflict
however, is man v. man (Donny v. Daisy).

The main characters include Daisy, Donny, and Cal. The
protagonist
is Donny and the
antagonists
include Daisy, as well as society and education. The sources of the conflict are Donny's lack of interest in all aspects regarding schoolwork and Daisy's constant pressure on Donny to raise his grades, as well as Daisy's lack of trust in Donny. The conflict drives the plot throughout the entire story because the conflict is a very big portion of the plot. It was because of Daisy's lack of trust in Donny that Donny had no self-esteem and ambition, thus failing in school (this effects Donny's overall self-esteem and confidence). The conflict is very significant to the theme because the conflict molds the theme of this short story.

Author: Anne Tyler
Teenage Wasteland
Inciting Event:
When Donny's private school calls Daisy, his mother, to let her know that Donny's grades are slipping.

Exposition:
Teenage Wasteland is told in third person limited point of view in which the protagonist is Donny and the settings are Cal's House, Donny's school, and the unnamed city in which Donny and his family live.

Rising Action: (1)
Daisy comes to meet with Donny's principal to discuss Donny's poor grades.
(2)
Daisy attempts to help Donny with schoolwork and he improves slightly but he still misbehaves by, for example, smoking in the furnace room, and entering school grounds while intoxicated.
(3)


Plot Diagram
Inciting Event:
When Donny's private school calls Daisy, his mother, to let her know that Donny's grades are slipping.

Exposition:
"Teenage Wasteland" is told in third person as an omniscient author might tell it, but one who knows only the thoughts and feelings of Daisy. The protagonist is Donny and the settings are Cal's House, Donny's school, and the unnamed city in which Donny and his family live.
Inciting Event and Exposition
Raising Action
(1)
Daisy comes to meet with Donny's principal to discuss Donny's poor grades.
(2)
Daisy attempts to help Donny with schoolwork and he improves slightly but he still misbehaves by, for example, smoking in the furnace room, or entering school grounds while intoxicated.
(3)
Donny goes through psychological reevaluation by a psychologist who was suggested by his principal. Daisy is suggested to take Donny to a Mr. "Calvin Beadle, a tutor with considerable psychological training" (37).
(4)
Donny begins to do even worse in school and his grades drop again as a result of being able to express his freedom at Cal's house.
Climax
Falling Action
Donny gets expelled from school because there "had been a locker check, and in Donny's locker [the administration] found five cans of beer and half a pack of cigarettes" (40).

(1)
Donny goes to Cal's house instead of coming straight home after being expelled. Daisy goes to Cal's house to have a conference with both Donny and Cal.
(2)
Donny explains that a fellow classmate framed him at school and thus he got expelled. Daisy is hesitant to believe him. This causes Donny to turn to Cal and say, "you can see she doesn't trust me" (41).
(3)
Daisy stops Donny's tutoring sessions with Cal and enrolls him in Brantly, a public school.
(4)
Donny "did his assignments, and earned average grades, but gathered no friends, joined no clubs" (42).
Resolution and Subplot
Resolution:
Donny runs away. "He simply didn't come home one afternoon, and no one at school remembered seeing him" (42). Months go by with no word of where Donny went.

Subplot:
There is one subplot in this short story that is relevant to our central theme. The subplot is Donny's internal conflict with himself and it is integrated in the raising action of the main plot.
Donny
The reader can gather that Donny is an introvert because he doesn't like talking to his family too much. He tends to keep his distance from his parents because "his parents [are] too 'controlling'" (38). Based on the text, Donny is a very reticent and self-centered person. When asked by Daisy if he liked Cal as his tutor "Donny had returned to his old, evasive self [and] jerked his chin towards the garage" (38). He is very impressionable and gives into peer pressure, for example, by smoking and having alcohol with his friends to satisfy his friends and feel accepted. Donny has no motivation to do well in school because he feels disconnected with his family and therefore, he thinks there is no need to do well in school. He feels trapped in school. "It's like a prison there, you know?" (37).
Calvin
The reader can assume that Cal has put up a facade, covering his actual personality. He tells Daisy that "all his kids did [well]" (37). However, when Donny signed up to be tutored, all his grades got worse. The reader can infer from the text that, instead of being a tutor, Cal was acting more like a friend to Donny which impeded his progress in school. "Cal lent Donny an album by The Who. He took Donny and two other pupils to a rock concert" (39). Cal has an informal and laid back personality. For example, when Donny got expelled, "[Daisy] already felt soothed by the calm way Cal was taking this" (41). Cal is motivated to befriend his students rather than help them achieve excellence in school.
Daisy
The reader can infer that Daisy is innocent and by no means wants to make her son pressured or overworked. She is a dedicated but self-conscious woman who feels she is to blame for her son's lack of interest in school. Daisy is motivated to act by Donny's lack of motivation to do well in school. She considers herself to be "an overweight housewife in a cotton dress" (37). Daisy consistently tries to control Donny’s actions for the sake of his well-being without realizing that she is actually stripping Donny of his freedom. “Cal’s first bill sent a flutter of panic through Daisy’s chest, but [she thought] it was worth it”(38) however Donny “said that his [mother was] too ‘controlling’ [and she] acted like warden” (38).
Point of View
The narrative viewpoint and perspective of “Teenage Wasteland” is that of Donny's mother, Daisy. The entire story is told in the third person as an omniscient author might tell it, but one who knows only the thoughts and feelings of Daisy. All events are presented as Daisy experiences or observes them, and the dialogue always includes her, therefore making her a very involved and reliable narrator. Daisy is not given to introspection and emotionalism, as one may expect, considering the disappearance of her son, with whom she cannot communicate. The boy wants to be trusted and treated as an adult, even when he behaves in childish and self-indulgent way. These are judgments that the author’s style leads the reader to make; Tyler herself does not judge. Her style is unemotional, detached, and objective. Her characteristic use of brief, telling descriptions and natural, credible dialogue keeps the pace of the story swift. For example, when Daisy catches up with Donny at his tutor’s home after his expulsion, she merely says, “Hello, Donny" (41). It is a simple greeting that conveys her inability to express her deep feeling of relief, her uncertainty about how to approach her son, who replies by simply flicking his eyes at her. In a way, Daisy is attempting to be similar to Tyler's objective style but the reader knows that Daisy is very dissimilar to Tyler's style because she is very subjective about her son.
Setting
There are several settings in "Teenage Wasteland." They include Donny's school, Cal's house, and the unnamed city in which Donny and his family reside. This story takes place in modern times (20th-21st century). There is a lot of tension between the characters. For example, when Donny got expelled and rushed to Cal's house instead of coming home to Daisy and thus, Daisy drove to Cal's house to talk to both Donny and Cal. The reader could sense a bit of tension when Daisy said, "Hello Donny" but Donny merely "flickered his eye in her direction" (41). The setting does very little other than inform the reader where the characters are at certain times. Cal's house functions as a symbol in this short story.
By: Nazely Hartoonian, Aren Akarakian,
Karin Kevorkian, &
Shant Balci
Symbolism

Cal’s House
represents a sense of freedom for Donny. Because he is constantly under curfew and feels imprisoned, he savors the time and freedom he has at his tutor’s house. The
basketball
symbolizes a sense of guilt for Daisy (based on how she takes away her son’s freedom) because usually when Daisy went to pick up Donny from Cal’s house, she would see him playing basketball and expressing his freedom and happiness and she deprived him from a fun time because of her curfews and restrictions she would place on him. Daisy would later see the basketball again in the end after Donny runs away to remind her of her guilt of stripping Donny’s freedom and social life. The
beer and cigarettes
symbolize peer pressure and neglect because he looks at those as his source of acceptance. He is exercising his freedom by going against his parents’ rules. Donny lusts for self-expression.
Foreshadowing
When Donny got expelled from school and went to Cal's house instead of coming home to Daisy, Donny's not coming home foreshadowed what was to come, which was his total disappearance in the end of the story. "Gradually, [Daisy] realized that [Donny] was taking too long. She checked the clock, She stared up the street again" but thankfully, Donny was with Cal that time but the reader should have noticed that this was foreshadowing what was to come; and thus, in the end, "Donny vanished. It's been three months now and still no word" (42).
Imagery
There are several instances in "Teenage Wasteland" where the reader feels thoroughly immersed due to the rich imagery in the text. For example, "during athletics, [Donny] and three friends had been seen off the school grounds; when they returned, the coach had
smelled beer on their breath
" (36). Or when Donny ran away, Daisy "could occasionally
caught glimpses of something
in the corner of her vision. It was a basketball [that landed] in a yard littered with last year's leaves..."(42).
Irony
There are several instances where the reader can spot irony throughout the text. Some examples include: Daisy ignoring Amanda, Donny's younger sister, to focus on Donny who she neglected early in Amanda's infancy. Daisy "remembered when Amanda was born. Donny had acted lost and bewildered" but now "Daisy was often late starting supper, and she couldn't give as much attention to Donny's younger sister" (36-37).

Daisy and Matt, two adults, sitting on the principal's couch as if they were bad children being scolded. Daisy "and Matt had to sit on Mr. Lanham's couch like two bad children and listen to the news..." (36).

Literary Devices
There are several literary devices used in "Teenage Wasteland." The four major ones include: Symbolism, Foreshadowing, Imagery, and Irony.
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