Palmer LaRue has been dreading the day he turns 10. In his town, 10-year-olds get the job of "wringer" at the town's annual family festival, Pigeon Day, where 5,000 pigeons are released from crates and shot down in a competition for a sharpshooter award. The story follows Palmer's journey from a life driven by fear and the longing to be accepted to one where he gains the confidence to stand up for what he believes.
Students can illustrate examples of symbols, themes, and motifs in Wringer by Jerry Spinelli with a spider map!
THEME: Peer Pressure
THEME: True Friendship
Peer pressure is a major theme. Palmer desperately wants to be friends with the gang in his neighborhood led by the bully Beans. He discards his friendship with Dorothy Gruzik and joins in their teasing and "tree stumping" of her to gain their approval. He goes against his beliefs and values and also hides Nipper, fearing what they will think.
A beloved pet, Nipper solidifies Palmer’s feelings that Pigeon Day is wrong and unjust. Palmer discovers pigeons are fascinating and beautiful creatures. Hecan't understand why his town shoots 5,000 every year. Nipper also symbolizes Palmer's self-discovery and self-empowerment. His life has been dominated by fear and peer pressure. After adopting Nipper, he begins to stand up for what he believes.
Friendship is a major theme, but not just the kind based on the gang's bullying and fear. Palmer's has a genuine friendship with Dorothy. He treats her horribly when initiated. However, after Nipper appears, Dorothy is the only one who Palmer can confide in. She accepts and supports him. Their friendship helps Palmer grow more confident and willing to stand up for what is right.