Don't let Boy Band Island fool you: Riley's done quite a bit of growing by the time Inside Out is done. She's developed more complex emotions; her memory orbs are multi-colored by the end of the story, and she's not only capable of feeling multiple feelings at once, but also of having them work together.
She's better at communicating what's going on inside to her doting mom and dad, too, and she's learning more appropriate ways to let her feelings out, like taking out her anger on a hockey puck instead of those well-meaning parents we just mentioned.
Joy and Sadness come of age, too. Just like Riley, Joy learns to feel several feelings at once, and learns that all emotions are important—it's okay for Riley not to be happy 24/7. Sadness, meanwhile, realizes that she's not the Grade A life-ruiner that she once thought she was; she's a vital part of Riley's grip on the world around her.
Questions About Coming of Age
- What are two sacrifices Riley makes for her family?
- Why does Riley ask her parents not to be mad at her when she tells them she misses Minnesota?
- Why does Joy's attitude toward Sadness change? In other words, why does she yield the control panel to her?
- What's the significance of the glimpse we get inside Mom and Dad's heads?
Chew on This
Inside Out suggests that finding balance between your emotions is the first step on the long and winding road to adulthood.
When Riley stops running away and starts opening up to her parents, it's clear that she's no longer a little girl.