Study Guide

Turtle in Paradise Art and Culture

By Jennifer L. Holm

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Art and Culture

I blame Hollywood. Mama's watched so many pictures that she believes in happy endings. She's been waiting her whole life to find someone who'll sweep her off her feet and take care of her. (1.54)

She's got a point: Hollywood does paint a happy picture at the end of movies, where the guy gets the gal and they ride off into the sunset together. We can see why Turtle gets annoyed about this because it's not realistic. Not many people get a happy ending, especially during the Great Depression.

Kids in the funny pages sure lead thrilling lives. Little Orphan Annie and her dog, Sandy, are always having all sorts of adventures, and then there's Terry Lee from Terry and the Pirates. He sails to the Far East with his pal Pat, looking for a lost gold mine. (5.1)

Hmmm… is it just us, or does this go directly against what Turtle says about Hollywood in the previous quote? On the one hand, Turtle wants movies to be more realistic, but on the other hand, she wants her life to be more thrilling like in the funny pages. Can she really have it both ways?

In my opinion, the fellas who make Hollywood pictures are really just salesmen. Instead of peddling girdles, they sell thrills and chills, and folks eat them up. Not me, though. I'm no sucker. I know there's no such thing as giant apes climbing skyscrapers or mummies walking out of tombs. (13.1)

If people in Hollywood are salesmen, then they are selling make-believe fantasy to audiences who come to watch the films. Okay, we can get behind that. But did it ever occur to Turtle that this might be a good thing? Sometimes it's good to escape reality for an afternoon.

Maybe Mama is right after all. Maybe life is like a Hollywood picture, with happy endings around every corner. The boy gets the girl. The millionaire adopts the orphan. The poor kid finds the pirate treasure. (15.1)

As her dreams start to come true, Turtle begins to rethink her entire philosophy. Perhaps it's not that Hollywood endings never happen; maybe they are just rare and she is one of the lucky few who gets to live out a movie.

It's drizzling and we're all scratching at our mosquito bites. My face feels hot and tight. I wonder what Shirley Temple would do in this situation. Probably sing a song about how fun it is to be stuck on an island. (16.2)

For as much as Turtle hates Hollywood, she sure does think about it a lot. Take this scene, where she wonders what Shirley Temple would do and then uses what she thinks of (a.k.a. singing) to make everyone feel better.

Little Orphan Annie and Terry Lee get into scrapes, but they always get rescued. Everything ends up okay in the end. But it turns out that real life's not like the funny pages. When morning comes, no one's knocking down the door looking for us. It's still raining on and off, and windy. (17.1)

On the island, with the treasure in hand, Turtle realizes that as thrilling as treasure hunts and adventures look in the movies, they are not as exciting in real life. She's not sure if they will even be rescued, and she begins to wish she were in a movie so she could have some hope of surviving.

I dream that I'm sitting next to Shirley Temple. She isn't as cute in person as she is on the screen. And she's definitely wearing too much lipstick. (17.7)

Oh, burn. We know she hates Shirley Temple, but we think it's more about what the starlet represents than who she is as a person. She's the embodiment of Hollywood glamour and perfection, even though she's just a kid. Turtle thinks that's just not real life. (Head on over to the "Symbols" section for more of our thoughts on this.)

Something's been bothering me about Little Orphan Annie. After she was adopted by Daddy Warbucks and went to live in his mansion, did she ever miss the orphanage? Late at night, when she was lying in her soft new bed, did she ever think about the orphans she left behind? (18.1)

Turtle has it all, but it doesn't make her happy. The trouble with comparing your life to a movie is that movies and comics end, so usually we don't get to see what happens after the guy gets the girl or the orphan is adopted. In real life, time just keeps ticking.

A Hollywood writer couldn't have imagined a sappier scene. (18.36)

When her mom and grandma reunite, Turtle thinks of it as if it were a movie. Have you noticed that she often puts her life into a movie script so she can explain what it was like? Something tells us this isn't just about making it clear to us—we think she wants to think of her life this way.

"All right," I answer for us both. It may not be a Hollywood ending, but then I'm no Shirley Temple. (18.90)

In the end, Turtle realizes the full weight of what she's been saying all along: There are no Hollywood endings. She and her mom decide to stay with Aunt Minnie instead of getting their own dream house with a perfect family. And you know what? It's okay.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...