Study Guide

Punkzilla Appearances

By Adam Rapp


One time he told me that my hair looked Byzantine […] My Buckner hair had just started to grow out and it was getting wavy so I thought Byzantine meant curly or something. (1.27)

Branson collects (and misuses) vocabulary words. When Jamie looks up "Byzantine," he sees pictures of people in togas, which makes him imagine feeding people grapes and having orgies.

At Buckner there was this Pakistani kid Abdus who they called Bin Laden even though he was fat and could barely do ten push-ups and he was mad short too like five feet two even shorter than me and the real Osama Bin Laden is supposedly like seven feet tall and has anorexia. (5.11)

The white Buckner students, locked away at military school in the Middle of Nowhere, Missouri, automatically associate the new brown kid with the first brown person they can think of—who is, of course, a terrorist. Ugh.

I mean I was glad that she got back into shape or became more fit or whatever but part of me wished she would've gotten fatter just to spite that f***er. (5.22)

One of the ways Jamie's dad beats his mom down is by applying military intimidation tactics when she gains a few pounds. Note to the Major: basic training and your wife's thighs? Two separate things.

She had a lot of peach fuzz on her cheeks and I wondered if her hormones were messed up like maybe she burped a lot or could grow a circus beard. (5.45)

Jamie describes Mags as "pale and skinny," so the peach fuzz on her cheeks could be lanugo, a sign of anorexia.

His hand was big and hairy. Up close he had one of those faces that seems young and old at the same time like a shop teacher or some guy who owns a store where you take broken-down kitchen appliances. (5.53)

What is it about being able to build and/or fix things that would make you look young and old at the same time? We're not sure, but Jamie could be drawing from past experience here. In case you hadn't noticed, there's a fair bit of free association in Punkzilla.

There's this really old lady in the front seat whose one eye keeps leaking. I don't think it's tears it's more like some liquid form of LIFE leaving her. (8.3)

Chronic physical illness can indeed make people look like the living dead; it's one more way life can beat you down. Now go eat your vegetables and visit your ophthalmologist.

[…] there was no real way I could see what I looked like with the mask on but that was sort of an awesome feeling like I wasn't ANYONE for a second like I could be ANYTHING under the mask like a ghost or a wolf boy with a dead bird in my pocket or some green mist. (8.74)

When Jamie steals Sam's backpack, he finds a rubber mask he thinks is supposed to be Keanu Reeves. Putting it on allows him to imagine that he's exempt from the human condition, which is a good way to feel when you've just stolen a little kid's bag.

I swear P he said "Are you a model?" and I said "No why?" and he went "You could be is all. You have that look." (15.28)

Although Jamie's skinny and androgynous, "you could be a model" is a classic rapist/murderer line. Rule number one of being a legit photographer: Never tell anyone they could be a model.

I was like "You think I need a haircut?" and he said "You LIKE lookin' like that?" and I went "Lookin' like what?" I thought he was going to say "Like a girl" but he didn't instead he said "Like a punk" and then I said "But I am a punk" […] (19.26)

Punk is the one constant of Jamie's identity, even if its only physical manifestations are a busted black dye job and an iPod full of Clash tunes.

Even though she was hot for her age she sort of had a sad look on her face like nothing worked out right in her life. (19.41)

Kent's ex-wife, Marty, visibly carries the pain of losing her husband and child, but Jamie is temporarily distracted by the fact that she smells good and has boobs.

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