Night of the Whale by Jerry Spinelli

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Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Night of the Whale treats problems of growing up and coming of age. At the center of it lie the kinds of rituals in which many recent high school graduates participate. It includes some trivial aspects of coming-of-age, such as beer drinking and staying up all night, but its focus is the theme of humankind's relationship to nature, especially in connection with stranded pilot whales, the sea, and the interconnection between all human beings. The theme of the value of individual capabilities is developed through Helene Hallewagen, known as Wags, who is confined to a wheelchair.