The Imperfection of Perfection In Anne Tyler’s “Teenage Wasteland,” the reader is given insight into the difficulty of parenting through Daisy’s desperate attempt to stop her son from his seemingly uncontrollable downward spiral. The paranoia of her “perfect” parenting techniques leads to the tainting of Donny’s innocence over time and eventually his mysterious disappearance at the end of the story. Through symbols of innocence and corruption, Tyler demonstrates the importance of keeping one’s head clear and focused while parenting, and that using common sense and logic is far more effective than relying on idealism and hope. In the first three lines of the story, the reader is given a sense of Donny’s virtue during youth and how it
…show more content…
This speaks volumes about Donny's transformation of innocence. The yard is full of last years leaves, which are old and decrepit. This is a reference to the past. Donny's happiness is gone now. It has past just as easily as the seasons do. The light rays that pattern the yard are described to be as white as bones. The fact that the bones are bleached and cleanly picked shows that they are decayed and prove that they are also old. Bones often typify death. Similiar to Cal's lifeless yard, Donny's innocence is also dead. It is Cal who instigates the decline of Donny's teenage years.
Cal is a symbol of corruption in Donny’s life. He instills the thought in Donny that his mother is being over-controlling. The author writes, “Lately, whatever she said about Cal was read as criticism. ‘You’re just feeling competitive,’ he said, ‘and controlling’” (Tyler 192). Tyler describes the scene as Daisy and Matt go to pick up Donny:
Loud music would be spilling from Cal’s windows. Once it was The Who, which Daisy recognized from the time that Donny had borrowed the album, “Teenage Wasteland,” she said aloud . . . he thought she was commenting on the scene spread before them. In fact, she might have been. The players looked like hoodlums, even her son. Why, one of Cal’s students had recently been knifed in a tavern. (192)
There is great significance in this quote. It describes the decadence of Cal’s students. Daisy realizes that the term “Teenage Wasteland”