Study Guide

Crash Women and Femininity

By Jerry Spinelli

Women and Femininity

Chapter 2

In the meantime my little sister Abby was picking worms out of my shovelfuls of dirt. She was having worm races. It surprised me to see a girl not afraid to pick up worms. (2.2)

Crash is only 5 or 6 years old when he makes this observation about girls and worms. Where do you think he got his ideas about what girls should and shouldn't like?

Chapter 10

Every once in a while a girl will come back from summer vacation, and she's not just a little different, a little better—she's, like, Whoa! (10.6)

Crash is in seventh grade, so you know what that means: some kids are going through puberty, and others aren't there yet. Crash and his friends regard this process as a delightful mystery, particularly where breasts are involved.

Chapter 13
Abby Coogan

Abby took a couple bites. She kept staring at my mom. You could tell she was chewing on more than steak.

"Mom?"

"Yes?"

"Can I get my clothes at Second Time Around from now on?" (13.54-13.57)

In an interesting reversal of gender norms, Crash is a huge clotheshorse, while Abby is happy to get her stuff at the thrift shop. What do you think Abby finds attractive about secondhand clothes? What does Crash find so repulsive about them?

"Why did you ask your father about the number of square feet in an acre? Why not your mother?"

Abby had a yellow mustache from melted cheese. She looked stumped for a minute. "I think…I thought…acres was men's stuff." (13.61-13.62)

What Abby really means is math is men's stuff. Oh, no, she didn't! (Oh, yes, she did.) Thankfully, her mom sets her straight.

Chapter 20
Abby Coogan

Before he could stop her, Abby snatched the top pair of shorts and pulled them on over her jeans. She checked herself in the mirror. "Oh, Scooter, can I have these, please? Just one pair." (20.11)

Yes, Abby is asking for her grandfather's old underwear. Truly the fashion dream of every 10-year-old girl. Okay, probably not, although these sorts of fads do come and go. But why do you think Abby is so interested in wearing her grandpa's old knickers?

Chapter 22

She had to be in sixth grade, but she had the body of a third grader and the face of a grandmother. She had on enough makeup for ten clowns. She must have put it on in the dark after her mother dropped her off. (22.21)

Crash is clearly trying to be funny, but we can't help but notice how harsh he sounds in judging his young, female classmate. Take a second to put yourself in the shoes of this young girl. What must this experience be like from her perspective? How might she describe Crash?

Chapter 30

The next day, when I checked the backyard, the woodpile was gone. Where it used to be was Abby's old dollhouse. (30.26)

Abby uses her dollhouse as a mouse house, taking a symbol of her girlhood and repurposing it for something decidedly not girly.

Chapter 38
Mr. and Mrs. Coogan

"Mrs. Linfont found them when she was dust-mopping under your bed today. She said she didn't want to be snoopy, but she thought it was kind of unusual." (38.2)

We know it's the thought that counts, but when Crash, Mr. Tough Guy, buys a pair of red glitter heels for his grandpa, we had to laugh. This is the second casual reference to cross-dressing in the novel, by the way. (Remember Abby co-opting Scooter's old boxer shorts?) Think there's any significance there?

Chapter 45
Mr. and Mrs. Coogan

"I quit. Actually, I half quit. I'll still do it part-time, but only on my schedule. The mall can get along without me." (45.5)

Crash's mom decides to spend more time at home after Scooter's stroke. We have two questions for you. First, why do you suppose it's Mrs. C and not Mr. C who makes the decision to cut back on work? And second, do you think her decision had anything to do with Abby's protests of the mall?

Chapter 49

We're going to a ball game! My mother got the tickets. Five of them—for herself, Scooter, Abby, me, and my father. He says he won't have time to go. (49.8)

Sounds like Crash's dad is still working all the time. How do you feel about that? Does it seem reasonable? Realistic? How come he doesn't reduce his hours? And finally, do you think he'll make it to the game? Why or why not?

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