Setting

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 116

Wringer is set in Waymer, a small community of quiet neighborhoods, neat houses, and friendly people. The time is contemporary. Waymer's community spirit is exhibited in the residents' concern for a good park for their children. Each summer a Family Fest raises money to maintain ball fields and playground equipment...

(The entire section contains 1322 words.)

Unlock This Study Guide Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Wringer study guide. You'll get access to all of the Wringer content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

  • Summary
  • Characters
  • Analysis
  • Teaching Guide
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Wringer is set in Waymer, a small community of quiet neighborhoods, neat houses, and friendly people. The time is contemporary. Waymer's community spirit is exhibited in the residents' concern for a good park for their children. Each summer a Family Fest raises money to maintain ball fields and playground equipment and purchase new equipment. Spinelli develops a strong contrast to the peaceful park setting with the annual pigeon shoot. Participants pay entry fees. Soccer fields become battlefields with the explosion of guns aimed at defenseless pigeons. The sky is turned gray from the gunfire—"smokesun" as Palmer calls it—the air is filled with the acrid odor of gunpowder, and the field is littered with feathers.

Literary Qualities

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 315

Spinelli's writing accepts young people for what they are. According to Ethel R. Twichell in a Horn Book review of Dump Days, Spinelli "neither judges nor berates but shakes everyone up in his own bag of tricks and watches to see what will spill out."

He develops a strong person-against-self conflict with the opening sentence of the story, "He did not want to be a wringer." This simple statement pulls the reader in at once. Who is he? What is a wringer? Why does he not want to be a wringer? This conflict is supported throughout the story as Palmer inevitably approaches age ten, the age of wringers. From time to time he is able to push the thought from his mind, forgetting it "for minutes, hours, maybe even for a day or two," but it always returns, and it seems there is no one he can talk to about his dread of the role he thinks he is expected to play. It becomes a consuming thing, creating a mood of dread and apprehension.

Older readers will understand Spinelli's use of the albatross motif from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Nipper becomes an intolerable burden for Palmer as he tries to protect the bird and keep it a secret from his parents and the gang.

Spinelli's use of imagery paints vivid pictures for the reader. One example is his description of the pigeon's eye, which he uses throughout the story: "The pigeon's eye is like a polished shirt button.... The pigeon's eye is orange with a smaller black button in the center. It looks up at him. It does not blink.... He opened one eye to find an orange button staring back.... The bird's orange button eye blinked.... Orange eyes flashed in the dark . . . orange eyes dead as buttons." The reader is drawn into Palmer's mind through this effective use of imagery.

Social Sensitivity

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 76

Spinelli bravely addresses the issue of cruelty to animals. Cruelty to animals dulls the senses of the perpetrators so that their cruelty may turn toward humans. Caring for others and caring for animals help to form compassion in human beings. Some of the descriptions used by Spinelli in the pigeon shoot and the acting out by the gang may be offensive to some readers, but it must be viewed in the larger context of the message.

For Further Reference

Download PDF Print Page Citation Share Link

Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 346

Cheever, Benjamin. "Wringer." New York Times Book Review, November 16, 1997, 52. Cheever says that he believes Spinelli has presented "a moral question about the duty of ten-year-old boys who do not want to be wringers . . . with great care and sensitivity."

Keller, John. Horn Book, July/August 1991, 433-436. This is the text of John Keller's speech about Jerry Spinelli. It was given at the Newbery Awards at the meeting of the American Library Association in Atlanta on June 30, 1991.

Kirby, Mona. Mona Kirby's The Author Corner. www.carr.lib.md.us/authco/spinelli. Web site linked to www.acs.ucalagry.ca/ -dkbrown/authors.html. Information about many authors is available at the University of Calgary site.

Learning Works. "Jerry Spinelli; Learning Works Meets the Author." Learning Works, 1999.

Random House, www.randomhouse.com. Readers may search this site by book, title, or author and find a short bibliography of titles by Spinelli and a short biography.

Spinelli, Jerry. Horn Book, July/August 1991, 426-432. This is the text of Spinelli's Newbery Medal acceptance speech for Maniac Magee given June 30, 1991, in Atlanta at the meeting of the American Library Association.

Spinelli, Jerry. Knots in My Yo-yo String: The Autobiography of a Kid. Knopf, 1998. Spinelli has written about his life from early childhood through young adulthood. The text reads like his prose fiction.

"Spinelli, Jerry." In Something about the Author, ed. Anne Commire, vol. 71. Detroit: Gale Research, 1993, 180-183. This is an article detailing Spinelli's life and work. It includes a photograph of the author, pictures of two book jackets, and an illustration from The Bathwater Gang.

Review of Wringer. Amazon.com The reviewer said, "Wringer will appeal to pre-teens and younger teens who love to read suspenseful books on their own, but it would also be a good story to read aloud to spark discussion about the perils and nuances of peer pressure."

Review of Wringer. Horn Book, September/ October 1997, 58. The reviewer has warm and positive words for Wringer: "Spinelli's story is honest but not without hope."

Review of Wringer. Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 1997. The reviewer says Wringer is "A story both comic and disturbing."

Illustration of PDF document

Download Wringer Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Previous

Characters

Next

Teaching Guide