Study Guide

Crash Plot Analysis

By Jerry Spinelli

Plot Analysis

Exposition (Initial Situation)

Meet the Neighbors

Six-year-olds Crash Coogan and Penn Webb are neighbors. Crash is a big, mean bully, and Penn is a good-natured nerd. They don't get along, but it's not for a lack of trying (on Penn's part, anyway).

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

Wicked Games

Crash and Penn are in seventh grade now, and they're still basically the same. Crash pals up with another mean dude, and together they collaborate on charming antics like putting mustard in Penn's shoes. But after Penn makes a remarkable gesture toward Crash's beloved grandfather, Scooter (who had a stroke), Crash begins to have a change of heart.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

The Big Race

Crash has been feeling a little funny lately. He must've come down with some sort of illness that's making him act nice. Much to his surprise, he finds himself sticking up for Penn at school. Finally, he makes a huge, kind gesture of his own: he lets Penn win a big footrace at school. That means that Penn—not Crash—will go on to represent his grade in the famous Penn Relays.

Falling Action

Loser City

Welcome to Loser City, population: Crash. He's not used to losing, but he comes to realize that he did the right thing when Penn leads his team to a second-place victory in the relays. Back at home, Crash's mom has decided to cut back on her work hours so she can spend more time with the fam. The Coogan lifestyle is about to get a lot less luxurious.

Resolution (Denouement)

One Year Later…

It's been a year since the race, and Crash is still a little bit impressed with himself for letting Penn win. He and his former enemy are BFFs now, by the way. Scooter hasn't gotten much better from his stroke, but he seems to have settled into his new life. Also, the Coogan family is spending more time together. It's not a perfect ending, but it's a happy one.

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