This is a question our English teacher gave us: You may have noticed that in Part Five the narrator, Justin, did not use capital letters. Why do you think Palacio might have made this decision for...

This is a question our English teacher gave us:

You may have noticed that in Part Five the narrator, Justin, did not use capital letters. Why do you think Palacio might have made this decision for this section of the novel? Do you think this was a good choice on her part?

I'm sort of stuck, I don't really get why.

Asked on by jonesy259

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jjohnson112 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

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The book Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is told from six different viewpoints.  Three sections are told from the main character, August's, viewpoint.  The other sections are told from Via, Summer, Jack, Miranda, and Justin's viewpoints.  

One reason the author might have chosen to write Justin's viewpoint in lower case, was to make it visually different from the other sections.  It's challenging for an author to write in six distinctive voices, and keep those voices clear and separate, so the reader doesn't get confused.  By keeping the entire section in lower case, the reader knows right away the voice has changed, and also knows when that voice ends and another voice begins.

Another reason the author might have chosen to write Justin's viewpoint in lower case, was to give the reader clues to Justin's personality and character.  Justin is a teenager, and is Olivia's (Via's) boyfriend.  Because he is a teenager, and because texting is referenced throughout the novel, it makes sense the character of Justin would speak in all lower case, similar to a text.  In reading the section, many of the sentences are quite short, and the character also speaks in incomplete sentences.  For example, 

i shake his hand. i shake the other kid's hand. don't want to focus on his face. cool room, i say. (page 187)

Justin also has an artistic and poetic nature.  He plays a fiddle.  He auditions for the play "Our Town" and gets the lead role.  Throughout his section of the novel, Justin makes observations about Via, about August, and about Via's family that are more thoughtful and more poetic than the other characters.  He describes Olivia as a, "little lost bird looking for its nest."  At the end of his section, Justin thinks about the universe and decides the universe takes care of its "most fragile creations."  In the end he decides, "the universe takes care of all its birds."

Was having this section in all lower case a good choice?  I think so.  It makes the section stand out from the other sections so that Justin isn't confused with any other male characters, like Jack or August.  It gives the reader insight into Justin's poetic and artistic personality.  Finally, the lower case letters remind the reader of texting, which suggests Justin's youthful character.  

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