Positive and Negative Consequences
Each and everyday we make mistakes. Some mistakes are more severe than others, and come with multiple amounts of consequences. Often in life a lot of us tend to see more negatives than positives. We tend to only see the negative of our mistakes, because we notice that a lot of times they hurt people around us. As we go on in life we can begin to learn that not all mistakes have to be negative, and not all consequences have to be negative. It‘s more how we act on those consequences that make them positive. We do have the power over our own destiny. In the book Whirligig by Paul Fleischman, the main-character Brent learns through a hard experience that not all mistakes and consequences have to be negative. He learns you can make the worst mistake you have ever made, and turn in into something more positive. After Brent killed another teenager driving drunk during his attempt at suicide he only saw the negative aspects of his decision. He had to live with the guilt of taking life of someone else, but on an unusual consequence of traveling cross country to build whirligigs he realized that “consequences reach into places that we can’t see” (38).
Before receiving the unusual punishment of building whirligigs Brent desperately wanted a punishment. He felt much remorse for his actions, and “he wanted to do something for the family” (38).
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He was set on a long journey with only a handy whirligig book to guide him through. Brent was stuck a lot of the time with only him, his book, and his thoughts. He wasn’t about to tell anyone what he was doing, and made sure he was building his whirligigs in private. The building of his first whirligig didn’t go very smoothly. “He cut his hand three different times and suspected that part of him wasn’t with the labors he’d been assigned and longed to mete one more punishment” (52).
Brent longed for something that could make up for his mistake. He knew that he had done wrong, and feels stuck between a rock and a hard place. It took Brent a while to realize that the building of the whirligigs was enough to make a difference.
As Brent goes on his journey he begins to see the difference the whirligigs were making, but also the differences and changes within himself. He began to view his building of the whirligigs as more of a journey, rather than a consequence. Everyday he lives with the guilt of taking the life of Lea, but as he continues to build the other whirligigs he begins to deal with it. As in the beginning he was secretive about what he was actually doing, by his last whirligig he knew he had completed the transformation within himself. He didn’t need the whirligig book to complete his final task. He was able to open up to the painter about no only killing Lea, but also his attempt at suicide. He has begun to realize that he can’t change the fact that he killed Lea, but the fact that you do“…have the power over your own life” (18).
A consequence of building whirligigs turned into much more of a hobby for Brent. “He thought he might build some more whirligigs…start a lifetime project of putting one up in every state” (132).
Ultimately using the whirligigs to pass positive light to people all around.
We the readers already see the positive light being passed through Brent’s building of the whirligigs. We see this in San Diego, California when the whirligig brings Jenny and her Grandmother together. Her Grandma uses the whirligig to express how she wants Jenny to live her life once she dies. She says, “ ‘People are not all Hitler. People are very good also, like the one who made this wind toy to give happiness to everyone who pass’ ” (114).
Not only does the whirligig bring Jenny and her Grandma together, but we are being told how other people are viewing the whirligig as a breeze of happiness.
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In Belluve, Washington the whirligig was used more as a breeze of relief than a breeze of happiness for Tony. Tony doesn’t want to play the violin, but his mom wants him to constantly play just like the harp player in the whirligig. His mom loved the whirligig and kept a picture of it, while Tony despised it. In the long run it helped Tony get what he wanted saying that “the whirligig worked the same way he did. If it turned all the time without stopping it would break” (84).
Helping Tony’s mom realize that she can’t always expect so much out of him, and let him quit playing the violin.
These stories shows us a few ways in how the whirligigs are effecting every day lives of complete strangers. It shows us positive and inspiring thing that can come out of something as simple as a wind toy. Brent was able to take something so horrible and negative as killing another human being, and turn it into something so positive and inspiring. By helping people mend relationships and bring people together. He created a long term negative effect on Lea’s family by taking her life, but an unknown amount of positive effects on strangers lives by creating the whirligigs as a consequence. We individually have the power to be just like Brent. We have the power to make unforgivable mistakes that can haunt us for the rest of our life. We also have the power to not let those mistakes haunt us. It’s not easy to look at the glass half full, but it’s not impossible. It’s not impossible to truly feel remorse for your actions, and find a way to make up for them. Though it was hard for Brent in the beginning he used his absolute power to change his life and the life of others. Taking a consequence, and changing it into a positive life altering experience