Conformity vs. Individuality
Stargirl is about the conflict between conformity and individuality, about what happens when an utterly unique, couldn’t-care-less-what-others-think character enters a close-minded, insular environment. Leo, the novel’s narrator, acknowledges from the beginning that his high school is not a bastion of individuality. Not only do students follow the rigidly prescribed trends in clothing, food, music, and more, but the most popular kids are idolized precisely because they are not unique—they do nothing “special.” Rather than feeling stifled in this environment, Leo appreciates it: he knows precisely how to act, and as long as he sticks to “normal” behavior, he is guaranteed acceptance in the high school community.
The arrival of Stargirl Caraway brings upheaval to Leo’s life—and to the entire school. At first, the students regard her with curiosity and distrust, some even refusing to believe her behavior to be genuine. Hillari, the most popular girl in school, insists that Stargirl is an actress planted by the school administration to stir things up and get students more involved. And, of course, no student is willing to risk his or her place in the school community by actually interacting with Stargirl—her lunch table remains empty.
However, what makes Stargirl even more unusual is that even after the other students’ disapproval becomes clear, she refuses to change her behavior. To the astonishment of everyone around her, Stargirl actually does not care about being liked or accepted by the larger group. At the same time, Stargirl does care very much for other people: she gives presents to the entire school on holidays, sings the “Happy Birthday” song to students on their birthdays, and leaves congratulatory notes and gifts for people she does not even know.
Eventually, Stargirl’s kindness and enthusiasm for life starts to penetrate the conformist community, and at first, the changes appear to be positive. When Stargirl becomes a cheerleader, she awakens school spirit at formerly poorly attended sports games, and for the first time ever, the school basketball team finds itself on a winning streak. Students join school clubs, try out for the school...
(The entire section is 930 words.)
Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
- Length: 567 words (1.6 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
The book I read was Stargirl written by Jerry Spinelli.
The main character of this book is Susan Caraway, but everyone knows her as Stargirl. Stargirl is about 16 years old. She is in 10th grade. Her hair is the color of sand and falls to her shoulders. A “sprinkle” of freckles crosses her nose. Mostly, she looked like a hundred other girls in school, except for two things. She didn’t wear makeup and her eyes were bigger than anyone else’s in the school. Also, she wore outrageous clothes. Normal for her was a long floor-brushing pioneer dress or skirt. Stargirl is definitely different. She’s a fun loving, free-spirited girl who no one had ever met before. She was the friendliest person in school. She loves all people, even people who don’t play for her school’s team. She doesn’t care what others think about her clothes or how she acts. The lesson that Stargirl learned was that you can’t change who you are. If you change for someone else, you will only make yourself miserable. She also learned that the people who really care about you will like you for who you are. The people who truly love you won’t ask you to change who you are.
The setting of the story is Mica Area High School in Arizona. The kids who attended this high school all wore the same clothes, talked the same way, ate the same food, and listened to the same music. They were pretty much identical to each another. The city had been built around an electronics business park. The city was only 15 years old. It was a town in the middle of the dessert where everyone’s front yard was made up of stones and cactuses. This story could have taken place in another time because the issue that the main character, Stargirl, is dealing with is a timeless problem. People always have trouble accepting other people who are not like them. Not to mention that cliques and popularity in high schools have been since anyone can remember. We all need to belong, even Stargirl.
The story begins with a new girl at school. The story is told by another 10th grader, Leo Burlock. Susan Caraway, better know as Stargirl, is a 10th grader who has just come to Mica Area High School wearing a pioneer type dress, strumming her ukulele, and carrying her pet rat, Cinnamon, on her shoulder.
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Jerry Spinelli Main Character Other People Clothes High Schools Wear Yard Makeup Cliques
In time, the students learn to love her. She soon becomes the most popular girl in school. But her popularity begins to wear off when she carries it a little too far. Leo befriends Stargirl and becomes his first love. Leo has to choose between being normal like the rest of his friends and showing his love for Stargirl. Leo has a long talk with Stargirl about her not being normal. After that, she changes her clothes and ways for Leo. She becomes normal for him. But she finds out that she is better off to just be herself. Leo doesn’t understand her. In the end, they both learn a very important lesson, if you try to change someone you will only end up hurting them.
There are many lessons in this story. One of those lessons is that you can’t change who you are. I think the main lesson is to always be yourself. Stargirl was a living example of this.