Diary of a Wimpy Kid

by

Jeff Kinney

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Independence and Growing Up Theme Analysis

Themes and Colors
Social Status and Friendship Theme Icon
Ideals of Masculinity  Theme Icon
Bullying Theme Icon
Independence and Growing Up Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Diary of a Wimpy Kid, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Independence and Growing Up Theme Icon

Greg experiences the transition to middle school as a step away from childhood and into adulthood. However, he still finds that his parents and teachers have a great deal of control over his life and choices, which is a source of tension as he develops his own ideas about how he wants to spend his time.

Greg loves video games and wants to spend as much time as possible playing them. However, his parents disagree that this is a productive way for him to spend his time, which leads to frequent conflicts. Greg’s dad often makes him stop playing video games and go outside to play sports instead. When this happens, Greg simply goes to his friend Rowley’s house to play more video games. But Rowley’s parents use a parental lock on their entertainment system that prohibits violent video games—another example of parental control over their children’s entertainment. When Greg listens to one of Rodrick’s CDs that has a “parental warning” for inappropriate content, his dad punishes him by banning him from playing video games for two weeks. Such a long period of time away from his beloved video games is difficult for Greg, and his parents’ power to forbid him from playing video games or listening to particular music demonstrates that he is still subject to their authority.

Now that he’s in middle school, Greg longs for independence from his parents. However, he also feels jealous of the attention given to his younger brother, Manny, who seemingly can do no wrong in their eyes. Greg feels that his parents are too indulgent with Manny and too easily forgive his misbehaviors, like drawing in permanent marker on the walls. At Christmas, Manny is given nearly every toy he asked for, while Greg resents his more “grown-up” gifts like socks and a sweater. In this sense, Greg is still fairly childlike in his desire for toys. Greg admits that his own gifts to his parents are the same every year, usually a generic “#1 Dad” or “#1 Mom” coffee mug. In his drawing, his parents look somewhat dismayed, suggesting that Greg is less than thoughtful in his gift-giving. He seems to see Christmas as an occasion that should benefit him, rather than a more adult reciprocal transaction.

Although Greg professes to be very grown up, he still finds that he needs his parents sometimes—more often than he wants to admit. When Greg wants to run for student government, his dad supports him and tells him that he had done the same at his age. He digs out some of his old campaign posters and helps Greg pick up supplies to make his own posters. Greg’s mom takes Greg and Rowley to a haunted house at Crossland High School, which features various frightening scenes, including a teenager wielding a chainsaw. Despite their attempts to be cool, Greg and Rowley are terrified. Seeing this, Greg’s mom tells off the teenager and makes him show that the chainsaw is fake, which embarrasses Greg even as he admits that he was grateful for her intervention.

Greg sees middle school as the beginning of adolescence and claims that he is grown up now—that, for example, he now “hangs out” at his friend’s house rather than going over to “play.” However, his propensity for getting grounded or having his choices curtailed by his parents suggests that he is far from independent. Indeed, his jealousy of his younger brother suggests that he may, ultimately, be reluctant to leave childhood behind. Certainly his transition into adulthood has many bumps along the road, as he comes into conflict not only with the frustrating authority of his parents in his life but with his own continuing desire for their affection and approval.

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Independence and Growing Up ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Independence and Growing Up appears in each chapter of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Independence and Growing Up Quotes in Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Below you will find the important quotes in Diary of a Wimpy Kid related to the theme of Independence and Growing Up.
September Quotes

I have told Rowley at least a billion times that now we’re in middle school, you’re supposed to say “hang out,” not “play.” But no matter how many noogies I give him, he always forgets the next time. I’ve been trying to be a lot more careful about my image since I got to middle school. But having Rowley around is definitely not helping.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker), Rowley Jefferson
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
October Quotes

Mom made the chainsaw guy show us where the exit was, and that was the end of our haunted house experience right there. I guess it was a little embarrassing when Mom did that, but I’m willing to let it go this one time.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker), Greg’s Mom
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
May Quotes

If the truth ever came out about how the Cheese disappeared, Rowley would be finished. He’d have to move out of the state, and maybe even the country. That’s when I decided to speak up. I told everyone that I knew what happened to the Cheese. I said I was sick of it being on the court, and I just decided to get rid of it once and for all…if I threw away the Cheese, guess what that meant? It meant that I have the Cheese Touch.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker), Rowley Jefferson
Related Symbols: The Cheese Touch
Page Number: 214-215
Explanation and Analysis:
June Quotes

Well, if Rowley appreciated what I did for him last week, he hasn’t said it. But we’ve started hanging out after school again, so I guess that means me and him are back to normal. I can honestly say that so far, having the Cheese Touch hasn’t been all that bad.

Related Characters: Greg Heffley (speaker), Rowley Jefferson
Related Symbols: The Cheese Touch
Page Number: 216
Explanation and Analysis: