In Whirligig, by Paul Fleishman, how does art save Brent Bishop?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Paul Fleischmann's Whirligig is a story which tells of actions and consequences. Brent Bishop, the protagonist of the story, makes a horrible decision to kill himself (after being humiliated at a party and fearing treatment at school). Unfortunately, instead of killing himself (when he takes his hands off the steering wheel of his car), Brent kills Lea Zamora (an extremely successful and involved high school senior). At his sentencing/trial, Brent speaks with Lea's mother. Mrs. Zamora asks that Brent, as a retribution, must design and place four whirligigs at the corners of the United States (Washington, California, Florida, and Maine) which look like Lea. These whirligigs will represent Lea and the joy she spread in the world. Mrs. Zamora wants her daughter's spirit to live on. 

Brent, even against the wishes of his parents, agrees to Mrs. Zamora's wish. He knows that this is the only way to help her with the death of his daughter (he also feels his punishment handed down by the courts was insufficient). It is this "art project" which allows Brent to realize many things about himself and the world around him. Brent, through art, learns about self-worth and companionship. His whole demeanor and character changes. Brent grows into a very respectable and mature young man. Art, essentially, saved Brent's life through his own evolution of character. 

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