Themes and Characters

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Last Updated on May 13, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 913

One of the most obvious themes of this text is the importance of diversity, of learning not to automatically discredit someone else's culture or viewpoint. Creech uses the diverse cultures of her characters to make this point clear. Dinnie does not want to move to Switzerland; in fact, she feels...

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One of the most obvious themes of this text is the importance of diversity, of learning not to automatically discredit someone else's culture or viewpoint. Creech uses the diverse cultures of her characters to make this point clear. Dinnie does not want to move to Switzerland; in fact, she feels as if she has been kidnapped. She is intimidated by the language differences as well. However, as the story progresses, she accepts her classmates' differences to the point of not even consciously recognizing them as "foreign." She appreciates the uniqueness of each person.

It is through her friend Lila that Dinnie sees the destruction that can occur when you keep yourself closed off from learning new things. Lila, who is also an American, hates the boarding school. Her roommate, Belen, is Spanish, and Lila cannot stand rooming with someone who is not an American. When she is not allowed to switch rooms, she complains about the food, the required community service, and her sports requirement. It is especially eye-opening to Dinnie when she notices that Lila stereotypes all nationalities to one particular bothersome behavior or another. Creech shows this attitude, that all non-American cultures are substandard, to be problematic; therefore the other characters, and the reader, are not sympathetic about the trouble that Lila always gets herself into. Dinnie, though she does not like her friend's attitude, appreciates that Lila is not afraid to say what she feels or thinks. Guthrie, Dinnie's other main American friend, provides a contrast to Lila, and curiously is the romantic interest of both girls. Dinnie appreciates his enthusiasm for life and his love for the Italian language, even when he often uses his words incorrectly. He helps her to focus on the positive aspects of any situation, and to realize that she can choose what her attitude will be. He also helps her to try to understand Lila and not just dismiss her like the others do.

Belen, a Spanish girl, and Keisuke, a Japanese boy, are also good friends of Dinnie's, and are her two closest friends who are not American. Belen and Keisuke have a dating relationship while at school, but must keep it from their parents because their parents do not approve of interracial dating. The ironic twist to Creech's obvious references to diversity among the children is the lack of diversity among most of the adults in this novel. The children learn to appreciate each other because they are given a nurturing environment in which to do so. However, Belen and Keisuke's parents want them to marry someone of their own culture, and are upset about their love relationship. Lila's parents are overbearing, perhaps as a result of her complaints to them, and are insistent that Lila get special treatment. This is especially evident when Lila is in the hospital after the avalanche, when her parents are angry that they were not notified about the ski trip, angry that she has to share a hospital room, angry that she has to read foreign magazines, etc. In contrast, Dinnie's Uncle Max and Aunt Sandy are open to differences, making them effective in their jobs at the school.

Another theme in this novel is the importance of struggle, especially with learning. Dinnie realizes that her experiences are shaping her. One professor adopts a method of teaching during the year whereby he does not give the students any written homework. They are required to just go home each day and think. The kids even spend three days in class discussing how one should evaluate thinking! Dinnie enjoys the intensity of her classes, and enjoys thinking about why others think the way they do. She also struggles with her own ideas and attitudes. She thinks that she is average and that there is nothing interesting about her. She finally comes to a point of realization that people who struggle, who do not take life for granted but wrestle with themselves and their surroundings, are the people who are interesting. Creech wants her readers to avoid following everyone else. Instead, she promotes actively wrestling with life's problems and ideas. It is important, then, that her protagonist is a female, for Creech is advocating that females can be part of this struggle for understanding and change, too, and that this activity will make them more interesting people. Because Lila does not struggle in this way, she is branded as a spoiled brat by her peers, or as not interesting.

A common theme in many of Creech's works involves the importance of mother/ daughter relationships. In Bloomability, Dinnie struggles with her physical separation from her mother during this important period in her thirteen-year-old life. She is incredibly homesick and feels cut off from her mother, and realizes this when looking at a baby spider plant that has just been replanted. Her Aunt Sandy cannot take the place of her mother, and so Dinnie feels disconnected. On her way back to the United States, she is looking forward to more opportunities with her family, especially her mother, and realizes that she has a choice to make about whether or not to return to the boarding school. At the beginning, she feels kidnapped, without a choice, but at the end she sees that she had made the choice to go all along. She chooses to go home to her family again, and even though we do not know if she will return to Switzerland, we know she will make the decision herself.

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