by Jerry Spinelli
Stargirl Theme of Society and Class
A high school is a microcosm, or a smaller representation of the bigger world that surrounds it. Just like in the "real" world outside, high schoolers usually feel pressures from society to conform, fit in, and avoid ruffling feathers. Sometimes people refer to this as peer pressure, but peer pressure sounds a little bit like isolated moments rather than one big ongoing pressure. The broader type of peer pressure Stargirl tackles is the kind that represses a person's individuality. Society has a way of rejecting those who do not fit in—like Stargirl. The strange thing is, as much as the world around her tries to repress Stargirl, she truly loves other people. She wants to connect with those who would keep her down. So as mean as her high school society is, she can't live without it. That's quite the conundrum.
Questions About Society and Class
- What are some of the rules Mica High society that Stargirl breaks? What are the consequences for that rule breaking?
- According to the student body, what is Stargirl's worst offense? What does this tell you about what Mica High society values the most?
- Stargirl agrees to try to become more normal after Leo tells her that she is not connected. Why is she so horrified to discover he thinks she's not connected? Do you agree with Leo, or do you think she is more connected than he realizes? Why or why not?
- Characters in Stargirl seem to constantly be on a popularity roller coaster. Sometimes they are up, and sometimes they are down. What does this tell you about the dangers of basing your self-esteem on what other people think of you?
Chew on This
John Donne, a famous poet, wrote that "no man is an island," which sounds a lot like Leo. People cannot survive as individuals, despite Stargirl's example. We need human connections to live a happy and secure life.
Stargirl's right: you should not let what other people think stop you from expressing your true self.