Study Guide

Crash Wealth and Materialism

By Jerry Spinelli

Wealth and Materialism

Crash is weird in that he's really into stuff like clothes and toys, but at the same time, he doesn't seem to care about that at all. Early in the novel, when Penn won't play with water guns, Crash stomps his own toy to bits.

You would think that someone who's so materialistic wouldn't want to destroy his own stuff. But for Crash, his pleasure has very little to do with the stuff itself; it's about how the act of owning things—and other people seeing him own things—makes him feel.

Throughout Crash, we see that material things make Crash feel powerful and fulfilled because he's not getting those feelings from other areas of his life. By the same token, Crash's insults about Penn's tiny house can't hurt Penn because he doesn't need a big house to feel fulfilled. That need is satisfied by his loving family.

Questions About Wealth and Materialism

  1. Who seems more materialistic: Crash or Mike? Why?
  2. Compare and contrast Crash's and Abby's values.
  3. Why is Crash so caught up in labels and price tags?

Chew on This

Crash is a novel about the emptiness of shopping and consumerism.

Crash doesn't say that shopping itself is a problem—it's more that people put too much emphasis on labels.

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