Study Guide

Crash Language and Communication

By Jerry Spinelli

Language and Communication

Chapter 6
Penn Webb

Webb piped: "John has a great-great-grandfather, and he's a hundred and fifteen years old!"

Four grown-up eyeballs landed on me. I had to think quick. "And I do dive-bombing too!" I said. "Wanna see me?" (6.28-6.29)

Crash doesn't know what to say because he randomly lied to Penn about having a great-great-grandfather. At a loss, he just crashes into some stuff instead. Classic Crash.

Chapter 7

I got a meatball, dumped it into a plastic bag, and ran down the street. I dumped it out of the bag and left it there, right in the middle of their front steps. (7.2)

Okay, we know that flowers say "I love you." But what exactly is a meatball on the porch supposed to say? Besides, of course, "I have emotional problems."

That night I asked my mother how to spell the words and left a note on my door asking my father to wake me up before he went to bed. (7.1)

Crash has to communicate with his dad by leaving him a note to read in the middle of the night. It's a little sad—one of the few moments in which we readers feel sorry for Crash instead of the folks he bullies.

Chapter 19
Mr. and Mrs. Coogan

My dad smacked the table. "I forgot. Your game. How'd it go? Who won? How'd you do?"

Suddenly I didn't feel like telling them. I chewed some stew. I shrugged. "Scored six TDs." (19.50-19.51)

Crash was thrilled about his performance in the football game, but by the time his parents get around to asking about it, his joy has turned into sadness. What is it about his dad's reaction that makes him shut down?

Chapter 20

Scooter would tell us stories. Not cuddle-your-teddy-bear stories, but screamer stories, tremble stories, sink-your-teeth-into-your-teddy-bear stories. (20.21)

Scooter is a storyteller, so it's especially cruel that his stroke takes away his ability to speak. That must be frustrating. What sense do you think it would be most difficult to lose?

We both grew up thinking that Scooter's bed was the safest place in the world, like a boat in a sea full of crocs. In fact we used to call it our bed boat. It was a place where you could say things out loud that you might only think anywhere else. (20.32)

Scooter is someone you can talk to. You know, really talk to. Or, at least, he was before his stroke. After that, we see the roles reverse a little.

Chapter 23

I wanted to say, I really like how you hardly use any makeup. But I didn't know how to say it, at least with words. But my hand knew how to do it; my hand was reaching out to say it, to touch that perfect unmade-up face, the most beautiful face I ever saw..." (23.10)

Here, Crash learns an important lesson. Touching a woman's face is not a compliment; it's an intrusion. Use your words, buddy. Use your words. Of course, that's not easy for Crash. Physical stuff, like athletics, comes easy for him. Verbal and emotional stuff, like talking and expressing himself? Not so much.

Chapter 37
Abby Coogan

As we were pulling into the driveway, Abby piped up: "It must have been terrible not to have a single word. And now he has one. And he can use it for anything!" (37.19)

Being a "glass half full" kind of gal, Abby takes the opposite view: Scooter's one word is a whole lot more than he had a few days ago. Now, that's optimism.

Scooter talks.

One word: "A-bye."

At first I thought he was telling us to go, saying good-bye, even the minute we got there. But it turns out that's all he says. It's his only answer. (37.1-37.3)

Scooter only has one word, and it doesn't even mean anything. Actually, that's not quite true. It means everything. And that's not much better. For the Coogans, it's a tough pill to swallow at first. They're going to have to get more creative.

Chapter 38

Last time we visited him, we took him some snapper soup in a Thermos jug. It's one of his all-time favorite things to eat. My mother fed it to him. When he tasted the first spoonful, his eyes lit up—he was Scooter—and he went, "A-bye, a-bye!" (38.26)

Now that Scooter can't talk, Crash has to look for new ways to communicate with his grandfather. Food is something they have always bonded over. And while his grandfather's only word in response is still "a-bye," the way he says it indicates just how pleased he is.

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