The Leavers

by Lisa Ko

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Student Question

How did music and gambling influence Deming in The Leavers?

Quick answer:

In The Leavers, music has an influence on Deming by being a source of joy for Deming in a life that is often filled with turmoil, confusion, and conflicts of identity. Gambling, on the other hand, becomes a massive problem, as Deming becomes addicted and squanders a huge amount of money before getting help.

Expert Answers

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Deming's passion for music brings joy into his life and helps him find his place in the world. Music is described as a third language for Deming, which gives us an indication of just how important music is to him. As a young adult, Deming drops out of college to become a musician, getting a gig as guitarist in his friend's band.

Throughout all the turmoil that this young man goes through—both as Daniel and as Deming—music is one of the few things that never fails to lift his spirits.

Gambling became a very big problem for our protagonist, Daniel, also known as Deming.

What started out as a few games of online poker leads to Deming following the poor example of Kyle, who gambles large amounts of money online. Deming's problem soon became very serious, causing him to stay in his room for days at a time, winning and losing money at an alarming rate. As is generally the case with gambling, Deming lost far more than he won and soon squandered his entire study loan on gambling.

Even then, the need to quit was not driven home, and Deming started a destructive cycle of borrowing money to pay for his habit. Ultimately, his foster parents found out about his problem, and Deming was forced to get help.

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