Water by the Spoonful Summary & Study Guide

Quiara Alegría Hudes
This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Water by the Spoonful.
This section contains 517 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Water by the Spoonful Summary & Study Guide Description

Water by the Spoonful Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes.

This play, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, is a highly theatrical, multi-faceted story of addiction and recovery, despair and hope, past and future. In the aftermath of a significant death, the dead woman’s sister, her son, his cousin, and several other characters struggle to come to terms with the immediate loss, painful memories, and the possibilities for a a future free of past suffering.

The play begins with traumatized Iraq war veteran Elliot receiving the news of the sudden death of his mother, Ginny, and with him sharing the news with his musician cousin, Yazmin. As Elliot and Yazmin work through their own grief, cope with the grief of other family members, and struggle to make funeral arrangements that will please everybody, Ginny’s sister Odessa continues to run a pet project: an online chatroom that offers support for people, like her, struggling to recover from an addiction to crack cocaine.

As the action of the play unfolds, it’s revealed that Elliot (who is haunted by a particularly traumatizing experience in Iraq), is himself addicted to pain killers, and that Odessa was his biological mother: she gave him to Ginny to raise because she (Odessa) realized that she was unfit. Further revelations reveal the depth of that lack of fitness: in order to get a fix of her drug, Odessa abandoned Elliot and his weaker younger sister while they were suffering from a severe flu, with the result that Elliot’s sister died. Elliot continues to angrily blame Odessa for what happened, and when he reveals her past to a member of the chatroom community with whom Odessa was meeting in person, the guilt becomes too much for her and she relapses. Her subsequent re-use of crack leads to a near fatal overdose.

Meanwhile, two of the regular visitors to Odessa’s chatroom – an Asian-American woman nicknamed “Orangutan”, and an African-American man named “Chutes and Ladders” – challenge each other to move further into their respective recoveries than they ever have before, taking risks and reaching out to each other and to members of their estranged / lost families. Orangutan travels to Japan in search of the home in which she was born, but finds herself unable to take the last necessary steps. To help and support her, Chutes sells his beloved car and flies over to join her. They continue Orangutan’s journey together.

As Odessa recovers from her overdose, she is helped by Fountainhead, a new addition to the chatroom community who is challenged to actually step up and both admit his own addiction and help another sufferer. At the same time, Yazmin and Elliot travel to Puerto Rico to scatter Ginny’s ashes, as per her wishes. While there, Yazmin reveals her decision to move into the family home, while Elliot reveals HIS decision to get as far away from his family and his past as he can.

The play ends with the scattering of Ginny’s ashes into the wind, an image of freedom and possibility that has resonance / echoes of the experiences of all the characters.

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This section contains 517 words
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