Hairstyles of the Damned
1. This novel is about a teenage boy named Brian who doesn't really fit in. It takes place in the 90s' in Chicago around when punk bands were very popular. In the first part of the book Brian is actively falling in love with his best friend Gretchen and he doesn't know how to say he is without ruining their relationship. Brian knows Gretchen doesn't like him in that way but he really wants to build up the courage to ask her to the school dance. A little bit after the middle part of the book the chapters restart. It is the same story but I think it represents a new chapter in Brian's life. In that part he meets this guy named Mike who is a stoner and he starts smoking weed with him in his basement. He also meets a girl named Dorie and they end up "dating". It turns out she has a boyfriend but Brian loses his virginity to her and that is a big deal to him.
2. I'd say the theme of this novel is about a boy who is trying to fit in in a world full of stereotypes and labels. Throughout the book he moves from label to label experiencing different sorts of labels and trying to figure what works for him.
3. There are multiple tones in this book but I'd say the overall one would be hopeful yet aggressive. A very good example of the aggressiveness would be, "...Gretchen shouted back, 'Douche-Bags!' and then she did it: She jumped out of the car and went right up and snapped the Trans-Am's antenna right in two." (Page 32) At this part of the book Gretchen is being teased by a couple guys in the car nexted to her and her temper gets the best of her and she basically attacks them. An example of the hopeful-sweetness of this book would be, "But like I said, the thing I liked the best was the singing. I mean it-I would go there and really belt it out like a total retard, you know, because I was there by myself and didn't have to worry about looking dumb for doing it, and it felt nice to be singing the same song as everybody-you know, belonging-and, well, all the old people around me loved me for it..." (Page 40) And of course the sad tone of the book, "One time Gretchen and I were in the car, and she was smiling and watching me mouth the words along to 'Hope' by the Descendents, and she said, 'My dad told me he saw you singing in church,' and I said, 'No, man, I just mouth the words,' and she said, 'No, he told me you were really singing,' so I stopped singing when I went there, from then on..." (Page 40) I think this part describes the sad tone of the book very well because he found something he likes to do and he stops doing it because he simply is embarrassed.
4. An example of the text's theme would be, "Gretchen and I would always go eat some place after school, even though she had this really big problem with being overweight. It was kinda fucking crazy. Like maybe I knew what we were doing but didn't want her not to be fat or she'd stop hanging out with me. I dunno." (Page 68) It describes the theme because Brian is being selfish in a way but he just wants to keep being friends with his friend. The way he described it was interesting, I thought. A really good example of the tone of the book would be, "OK, I was an asshole. A real, total, super fucking asshole. I sat in my bed all night feeling like shit, like crying-but I didn't-and I thought about calling Rod up and apologizing, but for some reason I couldn't do it." (Page 82) In this part of the book Brian tries to steal a record from Rod's dads record collection but gets caught. He only wanted to borrow it for a night so he could make a mix tape but Rod got really upset when he caught. The whole part was sad and went with the tone. "She looked hot - not pretty, but hot like a porn star maybe - but she had to check herself in the mirror again. We were sitting in the magnificent Escort and Gretchen was fixing her lipstick and more than anything in the world I wanted to grab her and kiss her;" (Page 91) This is an example of the theme and it basically is a perfect example of the temptation Brian feels towards Gretchen in the first part of the book. He wants her so bad but he is afraid of ruining it and he is a baby when it comes to telling her how he feels. "Bad-ass songs about the Devil to play while stabbing somebody like, I dunno, Tony fucking Degan maybe, as you off his soul up to fucking Satan for all eternity" (Page 110) This helped me understand the authors purpose by showing what Brian does when he is frustrated. He makes a mix-tape of songs to listen to. Mix-tapes are the physical theme in this book as they have been in it from the first page to the last. Tony Degan is the guy Gretchen likes and Brian hates it so he made a mix-tape about it. "I fell in love with a girl named Dorie. She was Mike's neighbor and the moment I met her, I was so into her it was not even funny. Most girls I didn't really fall for at first, like Gretchen, while had been my friend for long that it probably would have never worked out,..." (Page 141) This is an example of the romantic tone of the book. He really does love her and he ends up getting his heart broken by her in the end. "'Yo, can you keep a secret or not, dude?' he asked again. 'Yeah, I guess,' he said. 'Check this,' he said, pointing over to the cash register, 'I got a system.' 'A system?'...'Check it,' he said again. 'When the people come in, I don't ring them up.'...'I mean, I take their money, you know, charge them or whatever, and then pocket the money.'" (Page 157) In this part of the book Brian tries to do the right thing and then ends up getting screwed in the end. I think it is a good example of the theme and how if Brian did what Tom did then he wouldn't have gotten fired but he is a better person than that. "So Mike cut his hair because Erin's father had died, which was not a surprise to anyone, I guess. I had only seen the man once and then only for an instant, when Mike and I went over to Erin's house a few weeks before and I looked up the front staircase and saw a grayish man in a white robe crossing, with a walker and an IV on a wheeled trolley, into the bathroom, from where his bedroom must have been." (Page 188) Even though Erin and her father weren't in the book very much his death really went with the overall sad tone in later-middle part of the book. Around this time Dorie had "broken up" with Brian so the tone had already been sad so this just went right along with it. "One of the most tremendous feelings of joy swept over me, down my neck and hands and fingers, and my heart wanted to cry out, We are the picture of youth! We have trumphed over this thing death! You are gone and you were brave and good and than us in almost every way, but somehow, somehow we have found a secret passage! It is not the end! Dorie will not break my heart because we have found a way! We are still alive and the world is alive and we should all be singing!" (Page 190) I found this quote significant because I think it describes the authors purpose very well. The realization of death that Brian gets only inspires him to keep on living while he's alive and not to let something like a breakup get in the way of living. "Mr. Alba grabbed Keith by the back of the neck, maybe grabbing him too hard, I dunno, I wasn't there, but the kid, Keith Parsons, just snapped, punching Mr. Alba in the mouth. Mr. Alba tripped back into some lockers, and since it was between classes, tons of kids saw it, which was kind of weird and funny and a little sad..." (Page 254) This quote went very well with the utter chaos that was going on at this point in the book. The senior class was having two separate proms, one for the black kids and one for the white kids, and Brian even says that the whole situation made him feel strange. "Just because you have blue hair and fucked-up clothes doesn't mean you're better than everyone else. Because you know what? You're just conforming to someone else's code. Even though you don't wear khakis or sweaters or whatever, but to me all you guys look the same. You think you're so individualistic, but you're not. You guys-you can Kim and all the rest-you're like anti-snob snobs. But you're just as mean as the preppy kids. You're all just fucking lame." (Page 259) This quote really summarizes the authors purpose perfectly in my opinion. This is something Brian has been struggling with through the whole book and I could tell he had been wanting to say this all the along but he said it to the wrong person, Gretchen. She got upset as anyone would but Brian pretty much said that people put on costumes in everyday life just to fit in and he finds it ridiculous. That is the purpose of the book.
1. An example of direct characterization would be the main character, Brian, "In high school, I dressed the same every day: lame-blue flannel shirt over the white button down shirt and black tie I had to wear, black pants, and black dress shoes that were scuffed almost gray. I had dirty-brown hair that hung in my eyes, like a mop I guesss, and also my huge brown plastic frame glasses which I needed to wear because my eyesight was weak. Also, I had a wicked-bad case of acne on my face, on my neck, and even down my back." (Page 23) A second example of direct characterization would be, "The only other friend I had in the world...was a kid named Rod, who was black and maybe even a homosexual...he was nervous, kind of glancing around the room, folding his arms across his thin chest. He kind of looked like a scared rabbit...he dressed very white: white dress pants and a white-down shirt, and he always wore a red, button-down cardigan sweater." (Page 48) An example if indirect characterization would be, "well in class, right behind her, I would trace the narrow crisscross of her bra strap which was visible under her white uniform blouse, all the time whispering, 'Dr. Fang, Dr. Fang, you are under the spell of Dr. Fang,' knowing at any moment Suzy Lee would turn and wink at me, just once-wink- falling under the wicked, perverse charms of the most fearsome Dr. Fang for all eternity." (Page 55) This quote shows how sexually eager Brian is and that plays a big role in the first part of the novel. A second example of indirect characterization would be, "'That's what I'm talking about, little dude. If I start being nice and acting cool and saying things and being on time, she starts acting, you know, fucking uninterested. But if I act like a total dick, then she calls me all the fucking time. It's fucking crazy, because I really like her and all, but when I say nice shit to her, she gets all freaked out and says she needs fucking space and all...'" (Page 74) This quote indirectly describes the character Bobby B. It shows how he thinks all girls are and how he acts which isn't very pleasant.
2. The authors syntax and/or diction doesn't really change throughout the story. The only thing I would say that changes is when he is talking about guys and girls. He talks about girls in a romantic/sexual way while he talks about guys in a criticizing condescending way.
3. The protagonist is very much dynamic. Throughout the story you can see the changes he makes to himself and how he tries different things in order to fit in in a world full of cliches and stereotypes. He tries different things and hangs out with different people all in order to fit in and find his place. For example, towards the beginning of the book he is really into bands like Metallica and Guns 'n Roses then gets into Pink Floyd when he starts smoking weed with his friend Mike. He even eventually goes back to like bands like The Ramones and The Misfits which is ironic because his friends at the beginning of the book are all punk.
4. After reading the book I very much felt like I met someone. Nothing insanely crazy happened to Brian that made him unrelatable. Like when Brian and Mike were dropping off drugs to these "nerdy" kids that weren't in the book very long, "But then again, there was something kind of funny about them, kind of goofy, like they knew what they were doing was gay, but they didn't care. I mean, Peter Tracy had a fucking druid's robe on and he didn't care." When he talked about this in this part of the book I related because at first sight he thought the guys playing dungeons and dragons were lame but he changed his opinion when he saw that they didn't care and they were happy.