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An Abundance of Katherines

An Abundance of Katherines

by John Green

Dingleberries

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Colin and Hassan have each other's numbers, and they spare little when it comes to mocking, ridiculing, and teasing each other about their biggest insecurities. Sounds like a good time, right? It is—and it's pretty typical friend behavior—except when it gets a little out of hand, so they come up with a plan to navigate these moments:

"Maybe we should have a word," Colin said. "For when it's gone too far. Like, just a random word and then we'll know to back off." (8.12)

And with that, dingleberries was born.

First of all, what is a dingleberry? Well, it can mean "a foolish or inept person," which is certainly how Colin and Hassan act around each other a bunch of the time, but it can also mean poop. Yep, real nice word these boys are saying all over the place. We think the different meanings makes for some funny moments, because someone saying idiot or poop when the other pushes too far on personal stuff is just comical. The fact that it's really meant to be serious makes it all the more funny.

If you take a close look at the book, you'll see that the boys use the word again and again to get the other to back off. Saying this word is a code between the two of them, but it's also a great way for us to see when something crosses a line with one of them. They don't go saying uncle (or in this case, dingleberries) for no reason, now do they? And because of this, dingleberries serves as a symbol of what makes Colin and Hassan feel vulnerable or exposed… or like poop, metaphorically speaking.

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