When one lives in a privileged country, it becomes very easy to walk through life with a negative attitude and to almost become blind to all that one is lucky to have. Han Nolan, in her adaptation of Crazy, portrays the protagonist as an insecure teenager who learns to accept his fate and trust others. In this novel, a young boy named Jason Papadopoulos is left alone to live and take care of his father who is suffering from a mental illness. After attending daily counseling sessions, Jason learns that he is never alone in his problems and is eventually adopted nto a foster home which starts off a little shaky.
However, he quickly realizes how grateful he is for what he has received. Through the symbols, conflicts and characters in Han Nolan’s Crazy, the theme of gratitude shows that there is always something that one could be greatful for no matter what the situation. If one constantly takes their blessings for granted, it may lead them to become ignorant or live a less- fulfilling life. To start, the symbols provided in this book emphasize the theme which is to always be grateful for your blessings as it can only bring good things upon one’s life.
Firstly, the protagonist of the story, who is presented as fifteen year old Jason Papadopoulos, has to act as the leader of his household since his father is suffering from a mental illness and his mother had passed away. He constantly feels alone because of his lack of friends, which then leads to the creation of the imaginary voices in his head as he states, “ever since the fifth grade, I’ve had this imaginary audience in my head who follow me around and watch me like l’m the star in a movie” (Nolan 1). Based off of these thoughts, one is able to see that even from a young age,
Jason felt the need to replace his lack of friends with the voices of those who do not exist. As these voices act as Jason’s conscience and fill an empty void, by the end of the story he is able to make friends from the support group that he regularly attended during his lunch hour at school. These friends also present problems within their families, and through this group of people, Jason is able to relate to their issues and even open up about his own. Secondly, throughout the journey that Jason’s father went through to battle his illness, there is a constant reference to the Furies.
In Greek mythology, the Furies were known as female spirits of justice and vengeance who would pursue people who had murdered family members, and punished their victims by driving them mad. Unlike the imaginary voices in Jason’s head that symbolize his conscience, Jason’s father heard voices of guilt. Although Mr. Papadopoulos is not associated directly to anyone’s death, he feels responsible for the passing of his wife and this is shown as he attempts to purify his sins against her by wounding himself.
One can observe his guilt as Jason says: ” you didn’t kill Mom. Don’t listen to the Furies. She had a stroke. You weren’t even there” (Nolan 45) and his father replied sadly, “I should have been there ‘ (Nolan 45). The feeling of sadness from Jason’s father provides context as one can see that to Jason’s father, the Furies symbolize the guilt and punishment he thinks he deserves for not being with his wife at the time of her death.
As the plot gradually moves on, one is able to monitor the progress of Mr. Papadopoulos and see how he learns to let go of his past and move on. As a result of Jason getting adopted by a foster family, his father was being taken care of by health administrators unded by the government, to guide him towards better health. In conclusion, the symbols in this story display the internal feelings of both Jason and his father and how both the voices in their heads became a part of them. However, by the end of the novel both characters rid themselves of the voices and learn to live better lives.
The symbols accentuate the theme as they prove that although the voices became a part of both of the characters, they were eventually able to rid themselves of that negative aspect in their lives and replace it with something better such as real friends and better health care. Next, the conflicts that take place in the story, prove that if you do not acknowledge the things that you are grateful for, it could lead to ignorance and an unpleasant life.
First off, a person versus self conflict is presented in this story, as Jason is forced to be the leader of his house due to the lack of an adult figure to take care of him. Jason has to take matters into his own hands and is has to take care of not only himself, but also his troubled father. Everyday, Jason returns to his cold, foul smelling home and feels ashamed as he thinks, ” there’s no warmth in the house as I step nto the hallway, no smell of dinner cooking, no sound of mom’s voice singing from the kitchen” (Nolan 41).
These thoughts from Jason show that his household used to be filled with joy, happiness and the calming smell of his mother’s cooking. However, following his mother’s death, Jason outcast’s himself from society and replaces his friends with imaginary voices which also provides a person versus self conflict. Moreover, Jason and his father are considered poor and often run out of food, therefore creating a person versus society conflict. After making more friends during his daily group counseling sessions,
Jason acts surprised when one of his friends, Shelby Majors, shows up to his home. As soon as she enters his home: ” she goes toward the refrigerator, so I give up and just let the embarrassment happen” (Nolan 83). After failing to stop his friend from invading his kitchen, Jason is quickly filled with embarrassment as she finds it empty. Besides the embarrassment caused by the lack of food, that situation proves that Jason and his father are malnourished due to his father’s inability to work because of his illness.
In brief, the conflicts in this novel further prove the theme that one should always be rateful for their blessings in life by showing how the protagonist got out of both horrible situations by joining the therapy group and making friends. To begin, the characters in this novel show that one always has something to be thankful for, no matter how bad the circumstances may seem. Moreover, Jason Papadopoulos is displayed as a dynamic character who goes through a significant change. This is demonstrated as he describes, “I eat a huge breakfast of French toast and scrambled eggs” (Nolan 213).
After moving into the foster home with the Lynch’s, Jason no longer has to act like an adult and is rovided with nourishing food. His character shows a significant change from the beginning when he was provided with unnecessary stress, but after moving into the foster home that stress is lifted and allows him to act like a normal teenager. Although the decrease of stress shows a significant change in Jason, joining the support group has also changed him and allowed him to accept his mother’s death, trust other individuals, and maintain healthy relationships with his new friends.
Finally, Jason’s best friend and potential love interest Shelby, provides a significant connection to the theme even hen her life seems to be falling apart. Soon after her mother is diagnosed with the fatal disease of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), she receives continuous support from her friends which allows her to later on accept her loss and say, “I feel like her [her mother] peace is my peace” (Nolan 281).
Following these feelings of relaxation, Shelby accepts the fact that her mother is resting in peace and that she did the best that she could do for her as she took care of her mother every day. Although Shelby is going through a rough time in her life, she constantly thinks about the positive things, including her other’s peace and the continuous love and support that she receives from her friends.
In conclusion, the characters portrayed in this story truly stand by the theme, as they have both been put through hard times and still manage to stay optimistic and recognize their blessings. Throughout the novel, the symbols, conflicts and characters thoroughly demonstrate that no matter how bad one thinks their circumstances may be, there is always something to be thankful for. Starting from a home of neglect, abandonment, and endless nights worrying about the lack of food, warmth and medication for his father,
Jason Papadopoulos’ life completely turns around to a point where he learns to trust others and is adopted into a foster home. Jason’s dynamic character began as a shy boy who kept his thoughts to himself as he thought that if he ever expressed what his life was like at home, that him and his father would be separated and he would be left all alone. Without learning to appreciate the little moments in life, one may continue on a path of negativity and never realize that gratitude is a massively underutilized tool for improving life-satisfaction and happiness.