Turtles All the Way Down Themes & Motifs

Green, John
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Anxiety

The author presents Aza's anxiety as an important aspect of her character that colors her every waking moment and informs her every decision. It is a realistic portrayal of a mental illness, but it isalso an exaggerated metaphor of the general anxieties related to adolescence. However, while most teenagers feel anxiety about kissing their partners because they fear judgment or not having their feelings returned, Aza worries about the bacteria being transmitted to her from her boyfriend's mouth. Whereas most teenagers are worried about clothes, grades, and their reputations, Aza is convinced she will contract the deadly bacterial infection C. diff. through the perpetually open wound on her hand.

This callous/wound is the predominant symbol representing Aza's anxiety. Aza explains, “Ever since I was little, I've pressed my right thumbnail into the finger pad of my middle finger, and so now there's this weird callus...

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This section contains 2,723 words
(approx. 7 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Turtles All the Way Down Study Guide
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