Why does Palmer feel guilt about becoming a wringer in Wringer?Why does Palmer feel guilt about becoming a wringer? Theme of guilt in Wringer by Jerry Spinelli.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As with many things in our society, wringing began with necessity and became a sport.  The idea of wringing a pigeon’s neck is repulsive to many people.  Having a celebration and contest to shoot them is likely not everyone’s favorite past-time either.  Yet it is a way to control the pigeon population.  Whoever got the idea of young boys breaking the necks of wounded pigeons might be a little disturbed, but it needed to be done.

Palmer describes not wanting to be a wringer this way:

It was simply, merely there, a whisper of feather-wings, reminding him of the moment he dreaded about all others, the moment when not wanting to be a wringer would turn into becoming one. (p. 2)

Palmer does not want to be a wringer despite the societal expectation that he become one.  All boys do, so he should and will.  He simply does not want to hurt a living thing.

When Palmer falls in love with a pigeon, naming it and keeping it in secret, this desire not to become a wringer becomes more important.  He no longer sees pigeons just as dirty flying rats.  He sees them as friends.

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Spinelli, Jerry. Wringer. New York: HarperCollins, 1997. Print.

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