Who is the character Chaz in Whirligig?

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Chaz, in Paul Fleischman's Whirligig is one of the most popular people at Montford, the private school our main character attends. Chaz is known for throwing large elaborate parties, and this night is no exception. Chaz has planned a black and white themed party completed by a life-sized chess board painted on his tennis court.

Chaz’s party becomes the catalyst for Brent’s bad choices. Brent is worried that he wasn’t invited to the party despite Jonathan’s promises that it will be okay: "

Trust me! I'm his friend. You're my friend. Therefore, you and Chaz are friends. As was proven by theorem 50 in chapter 6. Stop worrying! It's party time!

Once the boys arrive, Jonathan remembers that they were supposed to dress in black and white; Brent instantly is upset and feels left out. His first interaction with Chaz is embarrassing as Chaz decides his last name, Bishop, means he's a human chess piece and mimics pushing him around the room.

Brent thinks to himself that he

felt like slugging Chaz, but knew his tormentor was taller, more muscled, and the de facto ruler of their class besides. If Chaz said that easy listening music was hip, then it was. Losing his cool here would be suicide.

Uncomfortable at the party, he decides to drink to calm down and fit in. The scotch and soda give him the courage to talk to Brianna. However, she rebukes him, in front of the entire party:

You're like a leech or something! Get off of me! Can't you take a hint? Go bother someone else! And that goes for at school too!" devastating him and making him want to die of embarrassment.

Chaz, the jovial host, uses the awkward moment to tease Brent, only making the moment even worse, yelling out that he has no manners and trying to send him to a time out:

"Bishop to penalty bench," he called loudly. "Ten minutes, for sexual harassment."

Brent, now intoxicated, chooses to drive home and listens to the voice in his head that tell him "You have the power to end your life. Now." He closed his eyes, deciding to commit suicide.

However, the result of this action was not his death, but the death of a young girl, Lea Zamora. The action sets the novel on its course, as Brent begins to travel the country learning about himself and performing restitution for the results of his choices.

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What kind of person is Chaz?

In Paul Fleischman's Whirligig, the character of Chaz plays a key part in the events that change Brent's life forever. Here are some things to consider when you are analyzing Chaz's personality.

Through Brent's point of view, Fleischman makes several references to Chaz's social status at their high school and his family's economic status. Brent notes that Chaz's family lives in a well-to-do neighborhood and that their house is on a lake.

Brent's internal dialog also conveys that he is uncomfortable going to a party at Chaz's house, even though his good friend Jonathan asserts that he will be welcome. Unfortunately, Jonathan fails to inform Brent that guests are expected to dress up based on a chess theme that Chaz has set. As a result, Brent feels very uncomfortable when he arrives at the party.

From Brent's perspective, Chaz humiliates him several times at the party. First, he calls attention to Brent not following the party's dress code for the chess theme. He also then physically pushes Brent across the back yard in diagonal lines, poking fun at the fact that Brent's last name is Bishop. In this scene, Brent notes that Chaz is both taller and much stronger than he is. As a result, he lets Chaz push him around as he builds resentment and feels humiliation. Finally, Brent feels that Chaz again humiliates him when Brent's crush, Briana, rejects him loudly and publicly. Chaz acts like a bouncer and tells Brent that he needs to go to the "penalty box" for "sexual harassment."

Overall, Fleischman creates Chaz to be a diametric opposite of Brent—outgoing, secure, boisterous and popular. These differences are ultimately what lead Brent to leave Chaz's party early while drunk, forever changing his life as a result.

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