Whirligig Questions and Answers
by Paul Fleischman

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In chapter 3, "The Afterlife," of the book "Whirligig," how does Brent seem to be changing?

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Chapter three is called “The Afterlife.” Here we learn that Brent wasn’t sentenced to jail time or to a stint in a detention center, as a result of causing the car accident that killed Lea Zamora. Instead, during a mediation session with Lea’s mother, Brent was asked by Mrs. Zamora to atone for his crime by building versions of Lea’s favorite wooden toy, a whirligig, and placing them in the four corners of the country: Washington, California, Florida, and Maine. For the first time in a long time – or maybe, ever -- Brent has a project to attend to that he has to put ahead of his own interests. Now it seems as though he’s figuring out strategies to use to curb his anger. Several times in the process of building the whirligig in Washington state, he has to stop and step away from the wood and the tools. When he makes a mistake, he is “frightened by his anger in the face of this setback.”  Before the accident, he probably would have just gotten angrier and angrier until he exploded and destroyed everything aound him. When he finally finishes this first whirligig and sees that it works, he feels a tingle of success. He has accomplished something worthwhile on his own. And he needs to feel as though he is truly atoning for the tragedy he caused. We readers can be optimistic that he’ll be able to keep on finding success and some sense of peace with the whirligigs and what they stand for.

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