Should Stargirl have changed to gain popularity?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Well, Stargirl does try to change to become popular. She enters the Arizona state oratorical contest, hoping that if she wins, then the other students will think she's great. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite turn out like that, and not because Stargirl failed to win. On the contrary, she storms the competition. Her winning speech receives rapturous applause from the audience, and she ends up on the front page of the local newspaper.

But when Stargirl returns to school, far from being hailed as a conquering hero by the other kids, she's roundly ignored by them. It's almost like she doesn't exist. The only people waiting to greet her as she arrives in the school parking lot are Dori and a couple of teachers.

The moral of this episode would seem to be that you should always be true to herself. Stargirl certainly takes this lesson to heart after winning the oratorical contest. From now on, she's going to be her normal kooky self instead of trying to fit in and be popular.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Being considered "different" by others can have very negative effects. In the book Stargirl we see just how being the outsider in high school affects Stargirl. When Stargirl first gets to her new school, the students don't really know how to react to her. The major antagonist in the novel, Hillari Kimble, does everything she can to make sure that Stargirl never becomes popular. With Stargirl's crazy outfits and constantly positive and friendly manner, it is difficult for her to assimilate into the "normal" lives of the students at Mica High. In fact, it is only when Stargirl joins the cheerleading squad that she is truly accepted as part of the student body.

Stargirl's popularity doesn't last long, and she is cast off by the students when she shows that she will cheer for just about anything—including the opposing team. Through the ups and downs of her acceptance and then quick dismissal from the popular crowd, it seems that Dori Dilson and Leo are her only constant friends. Sadly, even Leo turns on her in frustration when he realizes that her unusual nature has affected his own social life.

When Leo realizes he is being shunned by the students at Mica High for merely associating with Stargirl, he begs her to change and to try and act and dress more like the other students. This comes as a crushing blow to Stargirl. She loves Leo, but she knows in her heart that she will never be what the students consider "normal." Nevertheless, she tries and fails to become accepted into the social structure of the high school by going by her given name, Susan, and by changing the way she acts and dresses.

To me, watching Stargirl try so hard to fit in by changing herself is the saddest part of the book. I do not believe that Stargirl should have changed to try and become popular. I think that there will always be mean girls in the world like Hillari, but there will also be kind girls out there like Dori. If Stargirl had remained true to herself, she might not have had a huge group of friends, but she would have had true friends, who would accept her for who she is.

Leo seems to believe that Stargirl can easily just change and become one of the crowd, but in reality turning against herself is far more damaging to Stargirl than not being considered the most popular girl in school. Stargirl is miserable trying to be like everyone else.

I believe that people like Stargirl are what make the human race so wonderful. Her view of the world, her sense of style, and her positivity in the face of adversity set her apart from the others, but I believe she is set apart in a good way. She isn't like Hillari and the others who treat her so callously, but no one should be. We should all learn to respect each other's differences before we lose out on what could be wonderful relationships with others. Stargirl's story shows us that changing to win approval seldom turns out the way we think it will, and that being true to ourselves is the only way to ever truly be happy.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial