How did Brent feel about his sentence in Whirligig?

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chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We hear about the ramifications of Brent’s actions and the fatal accident he caused in the third chapter, titled “The Aftermath.” Lea Zamora’s mother outlines her mediation proposal: for Brent to build and install whirligigs in the four corners of the country. She can give him bus fare for travel. His parents immediately protest and come up with all kinds of reasons why he shouldn’t or couldn’t comply with her unusual request. But Brent sees this option as a good one. He was already emotionally impacted by the accident and by ending Lea’s life. Here was a way to atone for his actions. He would have a goal to work toward. Traveling alone would solve (or at least, delay) some of his problems at home, too. So he agrees to create the whirligigs, probably to the surprise of his parents.

In the quiet storm cellar of his mind, he pondered the proposal. Strange as it was, it would get him away from Chicago, his parents, and his recent past. It would also give him a chance to do penance. He’d never traveled on his own before. The idea held sudden appeal. He smiled inside. He cleared his throat. Then he spoke the words, “I’ll do it.”

Throughout the rest of the book, Brent rises to the challenge. He gradually feels better about himself and his situation, as a result. By the time he reaches his last stop in Maine, he’s almost forgiven himself.