Turtles All the Way Down

by

John Green

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Turtles All the Way Down: Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, Aza picks up a phone call from Simon Morris. She slips outside and away from Mom to talk to him. Aza asks if splitting the money with Daisy was okay. Mr. Morris says he doesn't care. He explains that he set up an appointment for her to deposit the money the next day after school.
Simon Morris represents the entirely legal, emotionless side of money: as long as it's okay in the eyes of the law, he doesn't care at all about the emotional aspects of money.
Themes
Privilege, Power, and Wealth Theme Icon
Aza tells Mr. Morris that she's worried about Noah and asks if there's other family. Mr. Morris explains that Davis has been declared an emancipated minor and the legal guardian to Noah. When Aza asks what happens if Mr. Pickett is dead, Mr. Morris explains that legal death and biological death are different: if no evidence of life turns up in the next seven years, at that point Mr. Pickett will be dead according to Indiana law. He tells Aza that he only deals with finances and assures her that everything legal is cared for.
Again, Mr. Morris sees that his only responsibility to the Pickett children is to make sure their money is available. While it's objectively true that he's a lawyer and that's all he's required to do, it also makes him seem coarse and unfeeling that he doesn't seem to care for Noah's emotional wellbeing. The difference between legal and biological death adds another aspect to the idea of what makes a person, as it's possible for someone to be dead for years before they're “officially” dead.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Privilege, Power, and Wealth Theme Icon
Aza feels fine the next day until she and Daisy are in Harold on their way to the bank. Daisy chatters about how her most recent piece of fanfiction went viral and retiring from Chuck E. Cheese's while Aza thinks that the medication might be working since she feels better. Suddenly, Aza thinks that the medicine is making her complacent and she hasn't changed her Band-Aid in over 24 hours. Aza's mind persists in thinking that she has an infection and certainly forgot to change the Band-Aid. She argues with the thoughts and even asks Daisy if she went to the bathroom after lunch. Daisy assures Aza that she did, but Aza has to pull over in a parking lot.
Life is good for Daisy: she's internet famous and no longer has to suffer the indignity of being a uniformed nonperson at Chuck E. Cheese's now that she has money. As Aza experiences these thoughts, the reader sees exactly how much power Aza's fearful mind has over her: she can't finish the task of driving and must pull over to attend to her intrusive thoughts. The fact that this fear arose after wondering if she was in control shows that Aza’s greatest fear is that something else may be controlling her.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Chaos vs. Order and Control Theme Icon
Privilege, Power, and Wealth Theme Icon
When Aza takes the Band-Aid off, her finger is red and inflamed. She shows Daisy and says it's a sign of infection. Aza puts hand sanitizer and a fresh Band-Aid back on and sits, embarrassed. Daisy kindly tells Aza to not be cruel to herself. Aza spirals: she wonders why she gives herself an open wound on her finger, which is one of the dirtiest parts of the body. She thinks she's going to die of sepsis and opening her finger doesn't even prove she's real. She puts on more sanitizer and replaces the Band-Aid three more times until Daisy finally tells her that they have to go. Daisy asks if it's better to reassure Aza or worry with her, but Aza only whispers that she gave herself an infection.
Daisy's insistence that Aza not be cruel to herself echoes Aza's conversation about selfhood with Dr. Singh, in which Dr. Singh encouraged Aza in a similar way. Notably, Aza's mind takes a decidedly gloomy turn here as she thinks that she's going to die and can't prove she's real. Furthermore, although Aza generally says she isn't in control of anything, she does believe herself to be in control of what (she believes) will cause her death. She believes she has the power to end her life, but not to change it for the better.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Chaos vs. Order and Control Theme Icon
Language and Meaning Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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At the bank, Daisy introduces herself to a teller. They escort Daisy and Aza to a private office and set them up with new checking accounts. The teller encourages them to not make big purchases for six months while they adjust to having that much money, and suggests investing in stocks or college savings accounts. Aza can't listen—she's too caught up in worrying about her infection.
The teller acknowledges that suddenly having an extra $50,000 is a major life change. Although it's somewhat unclear what exactly triggers Aza's downward spirals in the rest of the novel, it's important to note that even changes that are objectively good can trigger anxiety—as much as objectively bad ones.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Privilege, Power, and Wealth Theme Icon
As Aza drives to Daisy's apartment, she keeps forgetting where and why she is where she is. After she drops Daisy off, Aza thinks that being mentally ill doesn't make her any more intelligent or observant. In fact, she thinks it makes her less observant and a horrible detective.
Aza’s anxiety and obsessive thoughts are beginning to overwhelm her to such an extent that she feels disoriented. Aza suggests that people have a tendency to romanticize mental illness, but insists that she can’t see a single upside.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Language and Meaning Theme Icon
At home, Aza examines her finger in the bathroom. She cleans and re-bandages it before taking her regular medication as well as medication to use when feeling panicky. When the second pill starts to kick in, Aza feels heavy and sits in front of the TV. Mom comes home and asks Aza how she's feeling. Aza says she's fine and goes to her room to do homework. She struggles to read, so she texts Davis. He invites her to come over to see a meteor shower on Thursday, and Aza agrees.
Aza's willingness to take both her regular medication as well as what readers later find out is Ativan (a medication that calms, dulls, and can stop panic attacks) suggests that she's grasping for anything to give her a sense of control. Notice, however, that the Ativan doesn't necessarily provide her with relief: Aza still feels out of control, just a different kind of out of control.
Themes
Chaos vs. Order and Control Theme Icon
Mom comes into Aza's room and asks if she'd like to help make dinner and then if she's scared. Aza says she's scared, but she's not scared of something: she's just scared. Mom says she wants to relieve Aza's pain, and Aza thinks that she hates hurting Mom. Mom finally suggests that Aza needs to sleep, just as Aza had suggested to Noah.
Aza notices that her mother is treating her just like Aza recently treated Noah when she suggested that he go to bed and try to get some sleep. The implication is that Aza herself feels like she is devolving, to the point that her mother has begun treating her like a child once again.
Themes
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Language and Meaning Theme Icon