Teenage Wasteland

by Anne Tyler

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Whose thoughts and feelings about Donny's problems are best known to the reader?

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In Anne Tyler’s story, the thoughts and feelings presented are primarily those of Daisy Coble, Donny’s mother. By emphasizing the adult concerns, Tyler indicates the gulf between mother and son in interpreting his experiences, including her sense of inadequacy as a parent. These are far from the domineering control of which her child is convinced. At the story’s end, Daisy and her husband Matt are living without Donny, who has run away. It concludes with a mental image that Daisy has of a bleak scene of shadows and dry bones.

Tyler does not employ Daisy as a first-person narrator but rather an omniscient third-person narrator. In some ways this restricts the emotional punch that first person can pack, but in other ways it allows the author more flexibility as she can create an impression of reliable objectivity, which seeing things only through one person’s eyes would not allow her to do.

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