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Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture - Study Guide Part 2, Chapters 12, 13, 14 and 15 Summary & Analysis

This Study Guide consists of approximately 40 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Generation X.
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Part 2, Chapters 12, 13, 14 and 15 Summary

"New Zealand Gets Nuked, Too"

This section, written in a more diary-like format, begins with Andy's brief commentary on Dag's sudden and unexpected disappearance, and a phone call Andy receives from Dag, made on a pay phone in Nevada. In explanation of his absence, Dag tells Andy about Otis from Palm Springs (which he likens to New Zealand - both communities, according to Dag, are isolated enough to be safe from the fallout of a nuclear war). He describes how Otis suddenly had the urge to investigate just how serious the threat of poisoning from nuclear fallout actually is, and how Otis traveled trip through New Mexico and Nevada (the site of several nuclear tests), where he discovered that the threat isn't as present or as dangerous as he feared. Dag then, however, describes the development of Otis' theory that society could come to the belief that atomic bombs were merely extensions and/or expansions of regular bombs, therefore making them less of a threat. Andy then describes how he and Claire discuss Dag's story and dismiss him as simply being over-caffeinated.

"Monsters Exist"

Andy describes Dag's return - his high level of energy, his unkempt appearance, and his enthusiastic promise of presents for his friends, a beaded belt buckle for Andy and a glass jar of mysterious green beads for Claire. During conversation, the jar slips to the floor and shatters, scattering beads everywhere. Dag reveals they're the product of the searing heat of a nuclear explosion, grains of sand fused into a new and different material. Claire freaks out, shouting that he's brought radioactivity into her home and runs out, shouting that until the beads are gone and the place is completely decontaminated, she's staying at Andy's.

"Don't Eat Yourself"

This chapter begins with Andy describing Claire's comment that everyone has "a gripping stranger" in their lives, someone who awakens powerful passions and desires. For Claire, Andy comments, that someone is Tobias. He describes the history of Claire's and Tobias' relationship and Tobias's character (see "Quotes," p. 80, #1), and then narrates Tobias' immediate, territorial, and aggressive sexualizing of his relationship with Claire.

"Eat Your Parents"

Andy and Dag clean the beads out of Claire's apartment, fully aware that Claire and Tobias are having wild sex a few doors away. To distract themselves and each other, they discuss plans for Christmas - Andy's, to go home to his family in Portland, and Dag's to stay in Palm Springs. This leads to mutual complaints about their respective families, with Andy eventually pointing out that Dag is "just afraid of the future" as Andy's parents. For his part, Dag suggests that Andy "eat" his parents, accept them as part of what brought him to the world and get on with life. He concludes by commenting on how disgusted he is with his own parents, how he wants "to throttle them for blithely handing over the world to us like so much skid marked underwear.

Part 2, Chapters 12, 13, 14 and 15 Analysis

The first point to note about this section is its switch in narrative perspective - specifically, into a more diary-like narrative style. From this point on, and for the most part, events described by Andy took place in the more recent past than events in Part 1, a few minutes or hours ago as opposed to days, weeks or months. The essential purpose of this is to give the narrative more of a sense of immediacy and intimacy, not to mention a sense that Andy doesn't know the end of the story as he's telling it. In other words, the reader is on the "adventure" with him.

Other important elements here include Dag's "Otis" story (which, as previously discussed, is the most thinly disguised of the various personal stories told by the three friends - see "Important People - Edward, Otis and Linda"). Also, there is the reappearance of the nuclear war image, first seen in the previous section and a symbol of transformation throughout the novel. Examples - as a result of the nuclear explosion described by Dag at the end of Chapter 11, a friend reveals the truth of his feelings to another, and as a result of a past nuclear explosion grains of sand are transformed into pretty green beads. Perhaps most importantly, as a result of what Andy sees as a nuclear explosion (Chapter 30), Andy takes the final steps towards a personal transformation into a truth-teller rather than a truth disguiser. The next key element is the reference to eating things other than food, specifically to eating the self (which has a negative and self-destructive connotation) and "eating" one's parents (which has a positive, self-affirming connotation). This ambivalence or two-sided meaning to an image or motif is typical of the images and languages employed throughout the book, and can perhaps be seen as a manifestation of the confusion and/or misplacement and loneliness that seems to be a core experience of those born within Generation X.

Finally, there are important foreshadowings here. The reference to Tobias foreshadows the important role he plays in the narrative from this point on, while the references to Christmas and Andy's parents foreshadow Andy's trip home (Chapter 24) and the appearance of his parents (Chapter 25), when he actually does as Dag suggests here, and puts them squarely into his past.

This section contains 898 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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