What happens after Jimmy dies in "Say Goodnight, Gracie"?
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When Jimmy is killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver, seventeen-year-old Morgan struggles to go on with her life without her best friend. Jimmy's death sends Morgan into an emotional tailspin. Morgan goes through the stages of denial and anger, settling into a deep depression.
At first she rejects others efforts to help her in coping with her loss and she feels that she is the only one suffering from Jimmy's death. Finally, with the help of her aunt, who is a psychiatrist, and her supportive parents, Morgan is able to make the decision to put her life on hold so she is able to come to terms with Jimmy's death.
Jimmy's death is the central conflict of this novel, but not the only one. Deaver sets up the conflict between children and adults and between men and women at the same time that she is establishing the close relationship between Morgan and Jimmy. By doing all of this in the first half of the novel, the second half of the novel is working towards resolving each issue - at the center is Morgan's grief, but in her attempt to overcome her grief the other conflicts (age and gender related) are also resolved. Morgan initially withdraws into herself after the death of Jimmy, convinced in her teenage mind that she is the only one grieving. As is typical of adolescents, she is unable to see past herself into the pain of others. For this reason, she is also unable to accept help from others.
However, as time passes, Morgan grows and matures. She is able to accept help from her parents, her teacher, and more specifically, her aunt, who is a clinical psychologist. It is with the guidance of her aunt that she is able to come to terms with Jimmy's death. By doing so, Morgan matures, indicating that young people do need to accept help from adults to complete the maturation process. And by having her aunt - who (for the time period) is crossing gender lines in her chosen career - be the guiding force, Deaver is able to make commentary not only on the grief process, but on gender and age relationships as well.
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