What is the central, or most important, conflict in Turtles All The Way Down?

There are several conflicts in this book, and the search for the missing billionaire is a central one. However, one could argue that Ava’s conflict within herself is the most important and most central conflict. Her struggle with her anxiety and OCD shows how internal struggles can define the way one experiences and acts in the world. It also reinforces the book’s message about learning how to cope with challenges like mental illness.

Expert Answers

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

One could argue the central conflict in John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down is the disappearance of billionaire Russell Pickett. And indeed, this conflict drives the story, as Ava and the people around her get roped into the search for Pickett in hopes of a financial reward.

However,...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

One could argue the central conflict in John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down is the disappearance of billionaire Russell Pickett. And indeed, this conflict drives the story, as Ava and the people around her get roped into the search for Pickett in hopes of a financial reward.

However, Green’s focus on Ava’s inner thoughts and actions suggest Ava’s conflict with herself could be seen as the most important conflict. Her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other forms of anxiety impact every aspect of her life. The way she confronts all of the conflicts she faces, from the search for Pickett to the struggles of a young relationship, is shaped by her anxious thoughts. She worries about getting sick, she worries about school, and above all, she worries about not being able to ever get rid of her anxiety.

Ultimately the internal conflict that Ava has overshadows all of the events in this book and plays a defining role in the precise way she develops as a character. Consider what she tells the reader at the end, about learning to cope with her feelings through writing. The fact that Green ends the book with this point suggests that the book is intended to tell readers how to cope like internal struggles like Ava’s.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team