Life as We Knew It

Life as We Knew It Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
February 9-18. Miranda and Jonny continue to practice on the skis. Matt works on rebuilding his strength. Laura finds tulip bulbs and roasts them for a special dinner. Miranda thinks of Dan briefly on Valentine’s Day. Miranda makes a trip to Miller’s Pond to skate and has a wonderful time.
Miranda continues to seek out and find small moments of joy. These are often related to escaping for a few moments of privacy, or retreating into daydreams.
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February 20-22. Jonny has cut down to one meal a day like the rest of his family. Miranda thinks he peeked in the pantry and saw how little food remains. Laura has practically stopped eating. They are startled by four minutes of electricity in the middle of the night, and the next night they try the radio and find that it’s broadcasting again. The messages are similar to months ago—lists of the dead and the president promising that things will be better soon. Despite the lack of change, Miranda is heartened to hear that life has continued and they aren’t alone.
The rest of the Evanses have spent so long trying to protect Jonny and not restrict his meals the way they have their own. Now, however, they finally have to admit defeat and allow him to make this sacrifice, but Miranda knows that it’s not going to be enough—not long term.
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February 25-March 3. Miranda chronicles how much electricity they have each day. It varies from none at all to twelve minutes. The phones still don’t work, but other than Hal, no one would be calling. After the novelty wears off, Miranda wishes that instead of electricity returning, they had more supplies. She worries that Laura is willing to burn up batteries on the radio because she doesn’t think they’ll be alive to need them.
While electricity is novel, it quickly ceases to be hopeful, and with its inconsistency, it’s often not even helpful. It’s less exciting to hear the news say that things will be better soon when you feel that you won’t be alive to see them.
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March 4-6. Everyone is getting weaker due to lack of food. Miranda looks in the pantry and wishes she hadn’t. Laura asks her to skip eating a few days a week and Miranda agrees, despite the fact that Matt and Jonny will continue to eat one meal daily. Miranda starts to imagine her ideal order for them to die in: Mom, herself, then Matt—so that Jonny has a chance of surviving.
In the beginning of the novel, Miranda was constantly creating hierarchies of goodness or worthiness. Now she’s creating similar lists, but they contain the ideal order of their deaths. Instead of being focused on herself, they’re focused on what’s best for her whole family.
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March 7-16. Miranda resents all the blank pages in her diary that she won’t get to fill. Laura faints from hunger because she hasn’t eaten for days. Miranda realizes that there are less than ten days of food in the pantry if they’re all eating, and two weeks if just Matt and Jonny do. Miranda wonders if it’s easier to stop eating than just have a few sips of soup, and if she’ll be alive to celebrate her birthday the next week. She no longer recognizes her appearance in the mirror, but dreams about a pizza parlor—and thinks that it’s heaven.
Miranda’s diary, with its blank pages, represents the future she was supposed to have, but she has resigned herself to not surviving. Instead of fighting against this inevitability, she’s starting to calculate the cost of her very existence, which continues to deplete her family’s supplies.
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