Study Guide

A Mango-Shaped Space Isolation

By Wendy Mass

Isolation

Chapter 3

Had I misunderstood Billy? Was his mother right? Does he just make things up? After all, my name isn't even remotely purple and orange. The sun streams through the blinds and brings no answers, only more questions. Why does the only person in the world who might see things the way I do have to be five years old? Maybe everyone sees this way at five and I didn't outgrow it. (3.1)

After the math class incident (you know, where everyone called her a freak), Mia figures she is weird since no one else sees the colors she does. It's not until she meets Billy in the supermarket that it dawns on her that she's not alone. She's been isolated from everyone for five years, but she no longer has to be.

Chapter 4

Breathlessly, I tell her about seeing colors and about how I thought everybody saw things that way and then I found out that nobody did and I felt so alone and strange. I tell her I wasn't lying that day I got sent home in third grade. (4.160)

As Mia explains her colors to Jenna, she starts to feel more comfortable about her condition. At the same time, it forces her to accept how alone she's been for so long. She kept her synesthesia in for so many years that it seems weird sharing it with someone else.

Chapter 6
Dr. Jerry Weiss

"All kinds of people with all different types of synesthesia. There are discussion groups you can join and articles to read, although you may find some of them a bit dry." (6.75)

Jerry fills Mia in on a big secret: Other people have synesthesia. She's excited because she's not alone anymore—finally, she can come out of isolation. Even though her family and friends are eventually supportive, they don't really get what it's like for her, so connecting with other people who have synesthesia, too, helps Mia big time.

Chapter 7

I vow to try that bath thing as soon as possible. Getting stuck with needles isn't quite as appealing. All those people in their black-and-white worlds—they have no idea what they're missing. (7.96)

Oh, how the tables have turned. After a while, Mia starts feeling sorry for people who aren't synesthetes. She secluded herself from the world for so long because of her colors, but once she hears about other people who see them, too, she shifts her perspective. It must be lonely without colors, she figures.

Chapter 9

I'm very lucky to have Adam to write to, not only because he's the only one who understands me, but because I seem to be fighting with everyone in my family. Just yesterday Zack declared I was acting all superior because I told him I was too busy to help him study for his vocabulary test. (9.7)

Hmm… it seems like Mia is more excited to hear back from Adam not because she crushes on the guy, but because he makes her feel less lonely. She tells us that her family doesn't really understand her colors in the way she wants them to, but Adam does. We get that. It's easier to fit in with someone who is like you.

Chapter 10

Everyone is out when I get home, and the house seems very quiet. At least I can't fight with anyone if I'm all alone. (10.68)

Jenna wants to be alone so Mia heads home to be by herself. It's a bummer since she hasn't seen much of her bestie lately, but at the same time, it's a relief knowing no one else can bug her there at home. Sometimes, being by herself isn't lonely or isolating; it's just comforting.

Chapter 13

As if on cue, a flash of lightning shows me that Mango is definitely not on the bed. The only thing there is, is a Mango-shaped space. (13.56)

Poor Mia. Losing Mango is one of the hardest things she's ever had to deal with. The way she describes a hole in her life after Mango's death reminds us just how important he was to her. Even with all of her family and friends around, Mia's never felt more alone and upset.

Chapter 14

The newspaper is on the table, and I glance at the large headline type. All the letters are black. I can sense a kind of depth to them, but their colors are gone. I almost laugh remembering how I used to wish all the letters would just be black. (14.41)

It might be tough for us to understand (since most of us don't see colors floating around whenever we hear music), but Mia is lonely once her colors disappear. She feels lost without them. They help her process her emotions and harness her artistic talents, so it's sad when they go.

How is it possible that I'll never hold him or pet him or hear his wheezes again? He's gone, and he took what was left of Grandpa's soul with him. I'm all alone. Did Mango know how much I loved him? (14.8)

Yikes. Mia's emotional since her cat died, but also because she believes he took the last part of her grandpa's soul along with him. That was her last piece of comfort after her grandpa's death, and she feels lost without both of them (her grandpa and her kitty). It makes her feel like no one is there to support her, and no one gets her anymore. Cue the waterworks.

Chapter 15

I'm still torn between wanting my colors back and feeling like it's an appropriate punishment that they're gone. I decide to leave it up to fate. If they come back, it won't be because of anything I actively do. (15.78)

We get why Mia feels bad after Mango dies, but she really shouldn't blame herself. Just because she feels alone doesn't mean it's all her fault that her cat is dead. We see her punish herself for Mango's death by isolating herself from Jenna and her family even though they just want to help.

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