Chapters Fifteen & Sixteen
Summary: Chapter Fifteen (Evanston Will)
At lunch, Evanston Will does not see his friends, so he takes his tray of food to the auditorium, where he assumes they are working on the play. Once inside, he overhears Tiny giving notes to Gary about playing Phil Wrayson. Tiny tells Gary that Phil Wrayson is “totally freaking terrified” of everything and “closer to falling apart than anyone else.” He also tells Gary that everything Phil Wrayson says should sound annoying. When Tiny sees that Will is watching them, he yells that Phil Wrayson is just a fictional character. Will leaves the auditorium and waits for Tiny to come out and apologize. When Tiny does not, he leaves the school.
Will walks to a Little League field and sits in the dugout crying. He remembers when Tiny punched their Little League coach for yelling at Will. He calls Jane, but she does not answer. He calls his father and asks if he can call the school and tell them that he has left sick. Will walks home and sits on the couch. His father arrives shortly and talks with him. Will’s father tells him that he is very proud of him. The doorbell rings. Will thinks that it is Tiny, but it is Jane. She asks him what her locker combination is. He tells her and it confirms her suspicion that he had the MDC song dedicated. She tells him that she dumped her boyfriend, and they revisit the Schrödinger’s cat discussion. They kiss, and Will invites her in for dinner.
Summary: Chapter Sixteen (Naperville Will)
Tiny calls Naperville Will and tells him that he needs “a mental health day,” because Evanston Will is not talking to him and the musical is in chaos. Tiny drives to Naperville and shows up at Naperville Will’s school. Will meets him outside, and they walk through the hall. They have lunch in the cafeteria, and Tiny is somewhat rude to Gideon. Before leaving the cafeteria, Tiny walks over to Maura and thanks her for being so terrible, because it brought Will into his life. Will stops him from berating Maura further, and they leave the school.
Tiny drives them to Will’s home, and they sit on the swing set in the neighbor’s yard. They have an argument involving Tiny’s privileged life and Will’s constant, negative attitude. Tiny tells Will that life is not perfect for him, either, since he is so large and tries to bring the good out in other people, but no one ever appreciates his efforts. Will knows that Tiny is right but lets him leave, effectively breaking up with him. Will goes home and has a breakdown. He calls his mother and tells her that he loves and appreciates her. Will calls Gideon and is relieved that Gideon does not place expectations on him. Will IMs Tiny repeatedly, but Tiny does not reply.
Analysis: Chapters Fifteen & Sixteen
The setting of the baseball field is symbolic of Evanston Will’s desire to return to the safety of his childhood and old, comfortable ways. Will is coming of age which is a challenging and scary time for many teens. The more Will opens the “box,” the more vulnerable he becomes. With Jane this is exciting but with Tiny it is painful. Tiny has been a constant in Will’s life and so to feel betrayed by him, to see himself reflected through Tiny’s perspective in the play, is unbearable. He wishes to return to how things were and so instinctively flees to the ballpark. He sits in the dugout where he can see everyone else but they cannot see him. This hiddenness is symbolic of Will’s philosophies of shutting up and not caring because they make him a bystander to life rather than a player. As kids in Little League, Tiny acted protectively of Will when he punched the coach in the face. The baseball field is the place where Tiny had Will’s back and Will feels that support slipping away. Will misses how they used to be and the stability of his former life.
The setting of the swing set symbolizes Naperville Will teetering between his childhood identity and his adulthood identity. Tiny asks Will to take him to a place that means something to Will. Will’s inability to identify a special place shows that he has never felt comfortable anywhere because he has never felt comfortable in his own skin. This realization leads them to break into Will’s neighbor’s yard, mirroring how Tiny is trying to get Will to break through into his identity as a young adult. When Tiny sits on the swing, he bends the metal frame, indicating how he is altering Will’s life. As they twist and untwist on the swings, looking toward and away from each other, Will begins to untwist his emotions. Previously he was only able to convey anger or love. As his adulthood identity becomes clearer in conversation with Tiny, he discovers the complexities of himself. For the first time, he describes feeling complex emotions like need, regret, guilt, shame, fear, and emptiness rather than just anger or love. During this breakthrough, he understands that he loves his mother and needs to open up to her. He also understands the value of Gideon’s relationship and how it levels him out. Slowly, he begins to build his identity and understand who he is.