Nothing but the Truth: A Documentary Novel

by Avi

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What is the climax in Nothing But the Truth by Avi?

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When referencing literature, the climax is "the point of highest dramatic tension or a major turning point in the action." The climax of Avi's Nothing but the Truth occurs when both Phillip and Miss Narwin are faced with the dilemma of whether or not they should return to school. Tension is present because should one or both of these characters choose to return to school, there will inevitably be more conflict. Phillip will continue to clash with the other students, Miss Narwin, or both if he returns. If Miss Narwi returns, she faces a lot of backlash from parents and administrators who do not support her. This is also a turning point in the action because, as it turns out, Miss Narwin retires early and Phillip transfers schools, leading their conflict to come to an end.

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The climax in Nothing But the Truth occurs as both Miss Narwin and Philip are faced with the choice of returning to school.  Miss Narwin is asked to take a leave, or "sabbatical" as Dr. Doane would put it.  She sees past the euphemism to understand that they are really asking her to resign.  Philip, on the other hand, after being teased by the other students who claim to be gathering an 'anti-Philip, pro-Narwin' petition, tells his parents that he will not return to Harrison High School. 

Both of these instances act as the turning point or climax, because if Philip or Miss Narwin had insisted on returning to Harrison High School, then the conflict could have continued on indefinitely.  Instead, neither chooses to return, and the falling action and resolution shows Miss Narwin hopelessly resigning her beloved English job and Philip ironically finding himself at a new school with no track team.

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What is the climax of "Nothing but the Truth"?

This is a tough one but I would say the climax of the story is the point where Philip breaks into tears because he can not sing the National Anthem and confesses he does not know it. At that point the conflict reaches the peak and ends. What the novel does not have is a resolution. That is the beauty of it, though, because it raises some great discussions in the classroom. It's tough to pinpoint the climax in this book since it's written documentary style so you are not getting a flowing story but bits and pieces.

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