Themes and Characters
Like all of Crutcher's young adult novels, the themes found in Whale Talk reflect adolescents' struggle to overcome extreme obstacles and tragedies in life and to develop a sense of personal worth. The main characters in this novel, the Cutter swim team, are those students who are left on the fringe of high school because of mental or physical handicaps or as the result of the prejudice and intolerance of others. However, as the main characters struggle to carve out a place for themselves, they demonstrate strength of character and resiliency. They clearly demonstrate how compassion and generosity can help others overcome tragic circumstances. These characters also illustrate the need of all human beings for respect and dignity. Another important theme is that life is not fair and that the quality of life depends on what one is willing to take from life.
These themes are first evident in the main character Tao Jones, or T. J., who clearly shows the struggle that teenagers from mixed heritages face in trying to establish a cultural identity. T. J. tells the reader that he is Japanese, white, and black, although he has never been to Japan or Africa and doesn't know which countries make up Northern Europe. Therefore, he defines his ethnicity as "mixed," "blended," "pureed," and "potpourri." He further points out that it is difficult to be "of color" in a country where racists are often given a clear voice. As T. J. so vividly describes, sometimes...
(The entire section is 1151 words.)
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