Paul Zindel American Literature Analysis
To understand the themes that preoccupy Zindel, one must have a working knowledge of his personal life, because it infused most of what he wrote. His plays, for example, reflect his “virtually desperate” search for meaning in life. His young adult novels, on the other hand, reflect an attempt to resolve, through the creative process, problems left unresolved by an adolescence interrupted by a number of events.
The relationship between Zindel’s personal life and his writing may also be seen in the way he worked when writing. He usually began by creating what he calls an “inspirational homunculus.” This is a basic idea for a character, which was always based on a “life model” or “living image” (a real person Zindel had known). As his characters developed, Zindel identified closely with them as he placed them in situations in which they must resolve one or more of his own unresolved conflicts. Every situation is based on Zindel’s own experience. His young adult novels are usually constructed around what he considered four fundamental themes of adolescence: the search for identity and meaning, the youthful questioning of traditional values, the loneliness of an individual in a crowd, and the difficulty of communication.
With minor variations, Zindel’s stories follow an established formula. There is a principal protagonist, usually a dominant, wise-cracking male teenager, who is joined by a second teenager, always of the...
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