How does the whirligig affect Stephanie in Chapter 2?

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In chapter two, Stephanie, a girl of thirteen or fourteen, is the narrator. Her best friend, Alexandra, is taking her to the whirligig to teach her about the power of thoughts and visualization. Stephanie is described as pragmatic and unromantic with a scientific point of view about the world. She is socially awkward and sees herself as "puny in every department, with freckles and oily, drab, brown hair."

Conversely, Alexandra, whom Stephanie describes as a "mush-headed dreamer," is pretty, popular, and has already pledged her undying love to her boyfriend. As the pair trudge through the snow toward the whirligig, Stephanie's comments are sarcastic and cynical. However, despite her outward protests, she secretly hopes there might be truth in what Alexandra says.

Her hopes are revealed toward the end of the chapter. As she and Alexandra sit together quietly, Stephanie realizes someone is watching them and wonders if it's possible that Alexandra's power of visualization really works:

Disbelieving, fearful, hopeful, I slowly turned my head and stared.

The chapter ends with an epilogue from Stephanie. Three years have passed, and while she didn't become the buxom, long-haired adventuress that Alexandra described, Stephanie did meet a boy who turned out to be "her heart's joy." She is able to believe in things that can't be proven with facts, and she can embrace feelings of hope and joy and love.

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In Chapter Two, Stephanie is incredulous when Alexandra espouses the benefits of the whirligig to her.

According to Alexandra, the whirligig is a symbol of unseen forces that can be harnessed to turn secret desires into reality. Just as the whirligig moves in response to the wind, the technique of guided imagery can bring about positive outcomes for all those who practice it.

Although Stephanie humors Alexandra, she is not entirely convinced about her theory. As such, Stephanie makes little jokes throughout Alexandra's attempts to visualize a handsome boyfriend into Stephanie's life. For her part, Alexandra thinks that Stephanie is too reliant on the scientific method; she finds the methods of science too obscure for her liking. Meanwhile, Stephanie is hesitant to believe in the power of the whirligig and the technique of visualization. By the end of the chapter, however, Stephanie confesses that she does find a boyfriend who has been 'her heart's joy' ever since their meeting near the whirligig that day.

Despite the fact that her boyfriend is not 'tall, a biologist, nor a sea kayaker,' he does play his trumpet compositions to her over the phone. So, because a boyfriend does enter her life and 'in case unseen forces do exist,' Stephanie helps Alexandra maintain the whirligig on a frequent basis: the girls check on the whirligig every winter and paint it when it needs a paint job.

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