Study Guide

Turtle in Paradise Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

By Jennifer L. Holm

Advertisement - Guide continues below

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

The "Bellewood" is another happy combination of a well-laid-out floor plan with a modern attractive exterior. The design is an adaptation of a small English cottage. (1.46)

Turtle's dream house is straight from a catalog, complete with a Hollywood happy ending. Okay, okay, it's not advertised that way, but doesn't it almost seem like it is? Turtle places so much importance on this house specifically, not because of the modern exterior or the well laid out floor plan, but the dreams it symbolizes for her.

Most old people are cranky. Not that I blame them. How can you be happy when you know you're gonna be dead soon? (8.45)

In other words, old people no longer have anything to dream about or live for. In Turtle's mind, dreams are what keep us alive, they're what wake us up every morning and kick us out of bed to start another day.

"Nobody needs fancy face cream. A lady buys it because she wants to feel young or find a husband or feel prettier than her neighbor," he told me. "All I do is sell her that dream, bottled up nice and tidy in a cream, or maybe a new hat, or some brushes." (9.44)

According to Archie, he might as well bottle up some dreams instead of face cream. He's got a point. Maybe that's why salesmen are often thought to be slimy, because they lie to get people to buy their products, claiming they will give someone a new life when in reality, it's just a face cream they're selling.

"Princess," he said, laughing, "everybody's got a dream." (9.46)

Archie claims this to Turtle, and she believes him right away. Too bad she doesn't think about what his dream is until the end of the book. But what is his dream exactly? And why is it easy for him to accomplish his dream with Turtle and her mom?

"It's Nathaniel's bungy. It's just terrible. I've tried everything. I don't know what else to do," the mother said, looking like she was going to burst into tears at any second. "Can I please have some of the diaper-rash formula?" (11.5)

For the Diaper Gang, dreams come in tiny packets. Babies, to be precise. They offer the dream of a rash-free and cry-free baby, which every mom in Key West wants to take them up on. They're so successful because, like Beans says, good babies don't exist.

Something hopeful in me hardens. She reminds me of all the rotten kids I've ever lived with. (11.40)

Talking about her grandma, Turtle realizes that she's not a kind, old granny type, but a ruthless, manipulative woman. Suddenly, she realizes why the Diaper Gang hates Nana Philly. She also lets go of her dream of a stellar relationship with a dear grandma that she creates when she learns about her.

But it's funny. Even though I try to forget the coin and the map, I can't stop myself; I go back and look at them every chance I get. I keep thinking that maybe they are real. It's like monsters. You know there's no such thing, but you can't help but wonder if they're out there somewhere in the dark night, just waiting to get you. (13.22)

Even though Turtle hardly lets herself admit it, she hopes the treasure map she just found is real. She knows it's illogical and highly unlikely, but she still wants it really badly. That's the thing about dreams: They don't have to be rational or have the slightest chance of coming true, but you can still wish for them.

They don't want to give up the dream, either. (14.56)

Here Turtle is talking about her friends when hunting for the treasure. No one wants to keep looking, because they've looked long enough, and chances are, there is no treasure anyway. Yet something inside all of them keeps hoping and fighting for this dream to become reality.

I squeeze my eyes shut. I dream I'm walking into the Bellewood in pretty new shoes—through the front door, under the arch, and into the living room, where Mama and Smokey are waiting for me. It's so real I can smell Mama's perfume. (15.30)

Did you notice how she uses the word real here? In some ways, that word is in opposition to the idea of dreams. Turtle feels as though this dream is coming true in her life, though. Perhaps this is how we allow ourselves to dream—to give in to that small part of us that wants to believe it can be real.

Archie sold me a dream—Mama happy, a home, a family at last—and I bought it hook, line, and sinker. Turns out I'm as much of a sucker as anybody. (18.51)

It's rough when Turtle realizes that she, too, has been sold a dream, especially since her dream is connected to her idea of family. She doesn't wish for a million dollars or winning the Nobel Peace Prize; all she wants is a family and a home, though even that is just a dream for her.

Turtle in Paradise Dreams, Hopes, and Plans Study Group

Ask questions, get answers, and discuss with others.

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

This is a premium product

Please Wait...