What are the main themes of Whirligig by Paul Fleischman?

One of the main themes of Whirligig by Paul Fleischman is that actions can have far-reaching consequences, many of which are entirely unpredictable. Brent's atonement for the death of Lea by making whirligigs eventually touches many more lives than his own.

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Actions have consequences, often very serious ones. Most of us are all too aware of this, especially if the consequences in question happen to be very bad. But what we don't often realize, or choose not to, in some cases, is how far-reaching the consequences of our actions can be: how they can affect the lives of so many people by way of a kind of ripple effect.

When Brent kills Lea in a drink-driving incident, the immediate impact of her death is felt throughout the community, not just among her family and friends. By all accounts, Lea was a wonderful girl with so much to live for. It's all the more tragic, then, that she was cut down in the prime of life due to Brent's recklessness and irresponsibility.

Mrs. Zamora, Lea's distraught mother, gives Brent a chance to atone for his actions by making whirligigs, which Lea always loved, putting her name on them, and planting them in the four corners of the United States.

Brent consents to Mrs. Zamora's request but can have no idea of how much of a positive impact this unusual project will make. Once they've been made and planted, the whirligigs will bring joy to so many people, most of whom Brent has never met and never will meet. And through these whirligigs, Lea and her legacy will live on for many more years to come. No one would have thought that any of this would be possible after Brent killed Lea on the expressway on that terrible, tragic night.

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