Whirligig Questions and Answers
by Paul Fleischman

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In Chapter 9 of Whirligig, what are the five comparisons of whirligigs to other objects/people?

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In Chapter 9, I actually found seven references comparing whirligigs to other objects and people. I've listed them below in the order in which they appear in the chapter.

1. The final whirligig Brent is creating in Maine is compared to a dish or a meal, something that requires a delicate combination of ingredients:

But in his mind there materialized the notion of a whirligig all his own, its plan found in no book in the world, its ingredients his remaining scraps and whatever he could scavenge, as the campground owner had.

2. The new whirligig is compared to a moving gravestone, a colorful memorial for Lea:

But his clacking, flashing, jingling memorial would give off sound and color all year, holding back the tide of death. It was a kinetic gravestone, painted in ever-blooming greens and yellows and reds. Lea would not be swallowed up.

3. As Brent carries his completed whirligig up the hill to the artist's house, the narrator strongly implies a comparison between the whirligig and the cross carried by Jesus:

The whirligig was heavy, awkward to carry, and conspicuous in the extreme. He ignored the stares he drew in the campground, decided it would be easier to take the road, and was the cause of much braking and head-swiveling. The day was hot. His arm muscles burned. He shifted the contraption onto his head just as a breeze flowed over him, setting it ringing and spinning. It was engaged with the wind as if by a gear. Making his way up a hill, he listened to his respiration, his own wind surging in and out, and felt at one with the whirligig.

4. and 5. The unnamed artist compares Brent's new whirligig first to a flag and then to a musical performance:

"It reminds me of those Tibetan flags that flap in the wind, sending out prayers." She flicked a propeller and admired the sea glass. "It's a one-man band for the eyes. Bravo!"

6. Brent realizes that the group of dancers resemble a living whirligig:

Couples turned in circles, skirts rippling. Brent stared. It was a human whirligig, set in motion by music instead of wind. He sank into a chair and watched dance after dance.

7. Finally, Brent extends his understanding of the interconnections of humans as he compares a whirligig to the entire world:

In his mind, his whirligigs were meshed the same way, parts of a single coast-to-coast creation. The world itself was a whirligig, its myriad parts invisibly linked, the hidden crankshafts and connecting rods carrying motion across the globe and over the centuries.

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