How does Davis change throughout the book?

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A helpful approach when looking at how a character changes throughout a story is to compare who they are when they are introduced to who they are as their part in the story concludes. While Davis is mentioned early in the story, it is not until chapter 4 that Aza...

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A helpful approach when looking at how a character changes throughout a story is to compare who they are when they are introduced to who they are as their part in the story concludes. While Davis is mentioned early in the story, it is not until chapter 4 that Aza and Daisy interact with him, making him a full-fledged character in the story. Aza notes, “He had skinny, sunburned legs and knobby knees. He wore plastic-rimmed glasses and an Indiana Pacers hat.” When they first meet, they are unsure how to greet each other: “I didn’t know if I should hug him, and he didn’t seem to know if he should hug me, so we just sort of stood there not touching.” The awkwardness of the interaction is reinforced when Aza says, “There was something sweetly shy about the way he looked at me, glancing at, and then away from, my face, his brown eyes bigger than life through his glasses.”

The initial meeting between Davis and Aza is one of social ineptness and shyness. Davis admits he struggles with social interaction when he says, “I’m not sure what to say, I’m ... not good at chitchat.” Daisy interjects by suggesting he speak his mind, and he reveals his concerns by saying, “Okay. I’m thinking, I wish she wasn’t after the reward.” Davis then compares his situation to Aza’s, remarking that she was given a unique name, while every time he hears his name on the news, he realizes they are referring to his father and not him.

The exchange between the girls and Davis reveals a lot about his character at the beginning of the story. Davis is awkward and shy, fits the stereotypical description of a nerd, and feels like others have only checked in on him because of his missing father and the reward tied to finding him. Further, he implies that he has lived under his father’s shadow, forced to try to live up to his name and given little opportunity to be himself.

During Aza’s and Davis’s last interaction, a very different Davis appears from the one introduced in chapter 4. Davis shows up at Aza’s house wearing a plaid shirt and skinny jeans. He speaks easily and with greater confidence than he did earlier in the novel. When asked about why he decided to tip off the police to the location of his deceased father’s body, he says,

It was eating Noah up, not knowing. I realized ... I guess I realized I had to be a big brother, you know? That’s my full-time occupation now. That’s who I am. And he needed to know why his father wasn’t in touch with him more than he needed all the money, so that’s what we did.

At the beginning of the novel, Davis struggled with his identity in relation to his father, questioning who he wanted to be and what he would do. This struggle becomes a source of conflict for him throughout the novel, and here, in his final moments in the story, we see a resolution and a change in Davis. The differences between the beginning and the end of Davis’s story show how he has changed, and there are many moments of growth you can trace in between.

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