The Face on the Milk Carton

by Caroline B. Cooney, Caroline Bruce

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What does Janie's desire to change her name to Jayne Johnstone in "The Face on the Milk Carton" suggest about her self-perception? What solutions might this change present?

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The fact that Janie wishes to change her name suggests that she is a bit insecure about her identity. She is also self conscious, although this is expected of an adolescent girl her age as she is of the opinion that if she had been named differently, she would stand out more. She believes that Jane Johnson is such a boring name compared to her friends’ fancier names which she likes. Janie wishes her parents would have picked more memorable names such as Scarlet or Allegra. By changing her name to Jayyne Jonstone, she would be destined for a lucrative career as a designer or a TV host. A year back, she used to dream about her future family and what she would name her children. In fact, she has already chosen two names for her children - Denim and Lace - but contends that she may have to choose more reasonable names like Margaret and Emily to avoid a divorce or lose a custody battle to her husband. However, it is also possible that Janie had very strong instincts about her real identity and knew deep down that Jane Johnson was not her real name.

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