The most significant changes in the novel occur in Doug Swieteck, the protagonist. In part because of his own initiative and in part through the efforts of his brothers, friends, and teachers, he develops from an insecure, worried boy into an accomplished adolescent with confidence in his abilities and optimism about his future. This is not a small accomplishment, because his own father has not provided a positive role model for Doug. He has, in fact, caused numerous problems for the family.
The theme of the birds that Mr. Powell teaches Doug to draw and appreciate through the Audubon renderings is a cornerstone of his transformation. Doug realizes a connection with nature and receives encouragement to develop his artistic gifts. Furthermore, when Lil gives him the opportunity to hold a job, her kindness turns into a genuine connection between the two.
Lucas, Doug’s older brother, is a military veteran who has several disabilities stemming from his war-time experiences. Having lost the...
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