In-class essay (500 points) Select one of these theme areas, and, using at least



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Themes in Whale Talk – In-class essay (500 points)

Select one of these theme areas, and, using at least seven of the quotes, construct an essay discussing the theme and its significance for the characters in the story and for humanity in general. One of the quotes should be used as a grabber or hook. Each quote should be followed by the page number in parentheses as I have shown. Each quote should be followed by at least two comments discussing or explaining the quote. You will most likely need to explain who said the quote, or the circumstances which led up to the quote or followed after it. Your comments should also relate the quote to the theme. If you find that a quote from a different theme list could be useful to prove your idea, you may use it. It is necessary to have read the book to write this essay.

TRY TO AVOID USING THESE WORDS: I, me, us, we, our, you, your, yourself, mine


  1. Cultural identity/Prejudice/ Who am I? Life’s journey (humans struggle in the search for their true identity and their place in society)

“It’s hard to carve out a cultural identity in my mind. Mixed. Blended. Pureed. Potpourri” (Crutcher 1).

“I was the rainbow-coalition kid of two white, upwardly mobile ex-children of the sixties” (Crutcher 2).

“My parents have always encouraged me to be loud when I run into racism” (Crutcher 3).

“Mark Fuhrman … the spectacularly racially sensitive ex-L.A. detective …” (Crutcher 3)

“Very few people come out and say they don’t like you because you aren’t white” (Crutcher 3).

“Something inside me recoils at being told what to do” (Crutcher 8).

“Cutter is such a jock school” (Crutcher 13).

“It’s an honor to wear these colors. You don’t put on the jacket your brother earned” (Crutcher 16).

“Barbour’s family is famous for their send-all-the-Japs-back-to-Japan-with-a-nigger-under-each-arm attitude” (Crutcher 16).

“When an activity has outlived its usefulness in this country, we keep it alive by calling it a sport” (Crutcher 34).

“…tired of living in a part of the country where you become a man by mounting some helpless animal’s horns on the hood of the pickup” (Crutcher 38).

“She thinks if she can wash it off, her daddy will love her” (Crutcher 69).

“It isn’t even about race, really. It’s about nothingness” (Crutcher 71).

“… bigotry … is a soul stealer” (Crutcher 74).

“Racist thought and action say far more about the person they come from than about the person at whom they are directed” (Crutcher 88).

“I look at us: a real group of outsiders” (Crutcher 88).

“I hear him say he’s never been beat by a nigger” (Crutcher 100).

“What will I do if Mike Barbour ends up with the deciding vote on our letter jackets?” (Crutcher 114).

“Whale talk is the truth …if you’re a whale, you know exactly what it is to be you” (Crutcher 131).


  1. Fate/destiny is unavoidable/free will (humans have control over their own destiny/or/fate controls human destiny and one cannot change one’s destiny)

“… there are no coincidences … when two seemingly related events occur, they are related and should be treated that way” (8).

“Murphy is sixty-eight years old, having received divine dispensation to teach till two days after he dies” (11).

“He was destined to have a street or a small park named after him someday…” (15).

“We take what the universe gives us, and we either get the most out of it or we don’t …” (20).

“…here’s a guy … who has given up his home so his son can escape the same fate” (45).

“It became the defining moment in his life” (59).

“… the universe doesn’t make allowances for mental lapses” (129).

“… mad at God for not looking under his truck and seeing me there” (131).

“It was the first time most of us knew how finite things are here” (133).

“Are we big or are we small?” (134).

“…we set a goal and met it” (205).

“Not one minute … for revenge …” (212).

“My father is gone. I didn’t get a chance to tell him … he saved two” (213).

“He didn’t want me to live a life of what might have been” (219).



  1. Power/Who has the power/Powerful vs. the weak/authority vs. individual/good vs. evil (each person has the power to act for the good of society, or for evil)

“If you call my friend a dummy one more time, I’m going to take you apart” (26-27).

‘Rich Marshall hunts because he likes to hurt things” (38).

“I’m this righteous dude who stands up for the downtrodden, sort of a spiritual Robin Hood” (42).

“Old feelings of not being chosen welled up …” (52).

“He doesn’t know I get power knowing he knows I have the goods on him” (77).

“This is the first time in eleven years anyone has paid one bit of attention to him, other than to make him drink urine” (93).

“She looks small and helpless, kicked by the world” (95).

“The internet is a great equalizer … a guy can be anybody he wants” (136).

“…That amazing capacity to believe that other people make us do things” (149).

“It’s about dead baby deer and sports and girlfriends and your basic struggle between good and evil” (154).

“The only way I think I can get power is to let him hurt me so he’ll come crawling back” (157).

“They seem to listen, but in the end they make the rules and to hell with the people who have to follow them” (183).



“Do your best and get the crumbs” (184).

“I didn’t earn a letter jacket because I could, and all my friends did because they couldn’t” (204).


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