Study Guide

Unwind Identity

By Neal Schusterman

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Chapter 1

He was never "Connor" to them. He was always "that Lassiter boy." (1.1.16)

Connor is talking about his girlfriend's parents here and how they never liked him. But we wouldn't be surprised if his parents didn't view him in a similar light. After all, they're the ones having him unwound.

Thinking ahead has never been one of Connor's strong points. If it was, he might not have gotten into the various situations that have plagued him over the past few years. Situations that got him labels like "troubled" and "at risk," and finally this last label, "unwind." (1.1.67)

"Troubled" and "at risk" might as well be synonyms for "unwind" in this world. You have to wonder if a kid ends up causing trouble because he is labeled troubled instead of the other way around.

Chapter 3

This is what I was born for. It's what I've lived my life for. I am chosen. I am blessed. And I am happy. (1.3.68)

Lev is the happiest of our three narrators at the beginning because of the labels that have been bestowed upon him. As we see Connor called "troubled" and "at risk," by contrast Lev is called "chosen" and "blessed." No wonder he feels better.

Chapter 9

The mother is nineteen, but she doesn't feel that old. (2.9.1)

In this society, someone who is nineteen is considered an adult. But just because it's okay by law, does that mean a nineteen year old should be having a baby? If she does, what should she do with it?

Chapter 15

"Don't you see, Lev? You can save yourself. You can be anyone you want to be now." (2.15.36)

Later on we're told that Lev feels like no one (2.18.12). Without his "chosen" and "blessed" labels, he has no idea who or what he wants to be.

Chapter 19

"Nobody looks like a clapper." (2.19.23)

You can replace "clapper" with "terrorist" in this part. Does anyone "look" like a terrorist?

Who is [Connor] kidding? Lev was a tithe from the moment he was born. You don't undo thirteen years of brainwashing in two days. (2.19.12)

This is a good point. How you grow up plays a major part in who you become when you're older. Lev can't just choose to change one day…or can he?

Chapter 21

"Ain't no one gonna tell you what's in your heart," he tells Lev. "You gotta find that out for yourself." (3.21.1)

This is probably the most critical piece of advice when it comes to identity in the whole book. Sure, you can be influenced by friends and family, but it's ultimately up to you to decide who you want to be. In this book and in real life.

"Go—before he changes my mind!" (3.21.144)

CyFi complicates everything with his sci-fi brain transplant. By having a piece of Tyler's brain in his head, it's difficult to tell where CyFi ends and Tyler begins.

Chapter 53

Connor is a celebrity in his dormitory. He finds it absurd and surreal that the kids here see him as some sort of symbol, when all he did was survive. (6.53.2)

Connor doesn't feel like this is a big deal, but "survivor" is one of the best identities any of these kids could ever possibly hope for.

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