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Analysis

The Spectacular Now Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Exposition (Initial Situation)

It's the Sutter Keely Show!

In the exposition, we get to know Sutter, his girlfriend Cassidy, his buddy Ricky, his boss Bob, and his family. In that order. Which is, interestingly enough, also the order of their importance to Sutter.

Oh, we also find out that the kid has a bit of a drinking problem. 

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This?

Sutter gradually fouls up his life more and more … until he wakes up from a drunken stupor, lying under a tree in a stranger's yard, and sees Aimee for the first time. You just know things are going to be different for him from here on out.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

Who's Your Daddy?

Against all odds, Sutter is doing well. He's wising up and taking things seriously for once – until he meets his dad. Talk about a turning point. His dad takes all that progress he's made and turn it on its head, making him lose hope that he'll ever be worthy of Aimee. 

Falling Action

If You Love Something, Let It Go

Sutter's new, hopeless view of his future causes him to abandon Aimee in the name of love. She doesn't know it yet, but he's winding things down in their relationship.

Resolution (Denouement)

Welcome to the Future

Alone at a bar, just like his dad, Sutter decides he doesn't need anyone. He's settled on following in his father's footsteps, and doesn't want to drag anyone else down with him. Yeah, it's not much of a resolution—which makes sense. How could a book focused on now have any real ending, anyway?

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