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Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture - Study Guide Part 3, Chapters 28 and 29 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 3, Chapters 28 and 29 Summary

"Adventure without Risk is Disneyland"

Back in Palm Springs, Andy receives a phone call from Claire, calling from New York. She tells how Tobias (whom she went specifically to see) missed several appointments to meet, how they broke up during a visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and how, while they were walking back to where Tobias was staying she found a Y-shaped stick (see "Objects/Places - Claire's Stick"). She tells how they went back to Tobias' apartment, how she fell asleep on his sofa, how she realized after she woke up that the stick was going to lead her to the love of her life ... and how she discovered a bottle of Elvissa's nail polish (see Chapter 16). She storms out, followed by Tobias, who shouts at her about how foolish she is to be abandoning life while he wants to LIVE life, cursing at her while yelling about being desperate for excitement. As Claire finishes her story, she asks Andy to make sure there are flowers in her bungalow when she comes home. Andy understands her to mean that she's moving back into the place she moved out of. Claire says yes.

"Plastics Never Disintegrate"

Andy finds Dag out in the bungalow complex's pool, scooping out plastic flowers that keep sticking to him - the cheap plastic mat used to cover the pool at night disintegrated, leaving the plastic flowers stuck to it floating free. Dag reveals that he has booked Andy to work with him as a bartender at a New Year's Eve party thrown by the effete Bunny Hollander, who also happens to be the owner of the car Dag accidentally torched (see Chapter 20). On the night of the party, severe storm watches have been issued, but the party goes ahead. When the police show up wanting to speak with Dag, Andy's worries over being caught resurface, and Dag disappears into the back garden, where Andy later finds him. Attempting to ease his nervousness, Dag asks Andy to tell him a story, and Andy does - a story of his time in Japan, where he became true friends with a little girl after she had been caught doing something wrong and punished for it. At that, Dag prepares to go in and see the police. First, though, he tells Andy how he imagines his death - he will be old, worn out and thin, planting flowers in the hot desert, and an angel will appear behind him and carry him into the sun. He then kisses Andy, says "I've always wanted to do that" and goes into the house. Andy then recalls the story Dag told about best friends kissing each other (see Chapter 11).

Part 3, Chapters 28 and 29 Analysis

There are a great deal of noteworthy elements in these two chapters, the writing of which is particularly interesting - there is a certain superficial sense that not much is going on, but upon further consideration it becomes clear that there is in fact a very great deal going on. This is, in fact, true of the entire book. There is a certain quality of misdirection to the writing, perhaps reminiscent of the misdirection in the frequent stories of the central characters ... towards the mask (in terms of the novel, the mask of irony and self-reverence) instead of towards the heart (in terms of the novel, its intense focus on friendship and the need for transformation.

The first, and perhaps most important, element to note is Claire's story of her encounter with Tobias - specifically, the fact that she tells the story as it happened, rather than disguising it with semi-fictional details (such as Dag does with the Otis story, Andy does with the Edward story, and Claire herself does with the Texlahoma and Linda stories). In other words, Claire has come to a point (perhaps without consciously doing so) of deciding she's no longer going to hide behind such semi-fictions and live a more authentic life. Her choice to do so here foreshadows Andy's choice in the following chapters to do the same - his choice to act on the decision to change made in previous chapters. Meanwhile, Claire's poignant request for Andy to put flowers in her bungalow is, on one level, a request for support for her transformation, but on another level it is a manifestation/symbol of the novel's thematic focus on the value, beauty, and power of true friendship - for Claire, the flowers equal love. This idea is reinforced by the fact that she agrees to move back into the apartment which she once fearfully claimed was going to be radioactive forever - she, true friend that she wants to be and that Andy perceives her now to be, has forgiven him and Dag.

In that context, it's interesting to note that Claire asks for real flowers while in the opening of Chapter 29 Dag is covered with artificial flowers. The sense arises from this juxtaposition of images that Claire, and to a certain extent Andy, is further along on the journey of transformation towards authentic selfishness than Dag. This sense is reinforced by events later in the chapter, when Dag avoids the truth inherent in meeting the police, and in the following chapter, when he avoids the consequences of the truth (about the torching of the car) by lying. Ironically, though, Dag does have a brief moment of personal truth - the kiss, foreshadowed way back in Chapter 11 and which seems to suggest that all along, Dag has been at least attracted to, if not in love with, Andy. There is also the sense, however, that for Dag even this brief visit to the land of trueness (to coin a phrase) is too much - in the next chapter, and as previously discussed, he avoids the truth by lying to the police.

Another important elements in this section is the reference to bad weather which symbolizes the storm of difficulty and uncertainty encountered by the three friends to this point in their lives and in the novel, and which also symbolizes the unsettling "storms" of circumstance and feeling that both Dag and Andy are about to encounter. Also worthy of note is Andy's story of the Japanese girl, a combination of true selfishness and disguise - he is, in effect, telling Dag that the only way he (Andy) can and will be a true friend is if he (Dag), faces the fact that like the Japanese girl, he's been caught doing wrong. Finally, there is Dag's image of his death, which contains yet another reference to the transcendent, affirming power of the sun and of light.

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