What are some thoughts on the character of Doug in Okay For Now?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the most pressing thoughts that the reader has regarding Doug is that he is in a world of transition.  In nearly every aspect of his life, transition is evident.  He has moved into a new town, lives in the midst of adolescence, and seeks to carve out an identity radically different that how others perceive him. Doug's emotionally distant father and his brother being in Vietnam help to add to his condition of transition.  There is little set and stable in Doug's world. While his mother is there for him, the reality is that she too is set against a world of constant change and intense transformation.  This aspect of change is critical in defining Doug's characterization.  One of the thoughts that the reader has is how he will navigate such a challenging condition.  How can transition be seen through if there are so many obstacles posited against the individual? This becomes one of the most powerful thoughts that one has regarding Doug as his narrative unfolds.

I think that another thought that the reader has is that Doug's predicament is filled with the opportunity for epiphany and self- awareness.  The novel argues that an adolescence which is filled with so much change and transformation provides the best ground for self- awareness to materialize.  At the narrative develops, Doug is able to display this epiphanic quality in how he sees reality.  Lines such as “It means, Doug Swieteck, that in this class, you are not your brother" and “How come when you're feeling good like this, something always happens to wreck it all? How come?” reflect how Doug is able to navigate the transition period that his life embodies into truths about being in the world.  One of the thoughts that the reader has about Doug is to what level these epiphanies will stick with his construction of self as a result of his challenges.  

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