Turtles All the Way Down

by

John Green

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Turtles All the Way Down: Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mom wakes Aza up at 6:50 and asks if she slept through her alarm. Aza makes it to school a half hour later, where Daisy tells her she looks sleepy. Daisy asks if they can hang out at Applebee's later. Aza feels ill all day and falls asleep sitting in Harold after school while she waits for Daisy to join her. She thinks she should call Dr. Singh but thinks that it won't do any good, since five years of therapy and three different medications aren't helping.
Aza seems to be reaching rock bottom as she decides that five years of therapy has done nothing for her, and asking for help isn't worth her time. She's spiraling deep inside herself and is actively shutting down by falling asleep and by distancing herself from Daisy and from Dr. Singh.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Chaos vs. Order and Control Theme Icon
When Daisy gets into Harold, Aza quietly tells her that she barely changed her name in the fanfic and gave Ayala all Aza's personality traits and compulsions. Daisy defends herself by saying that Aza has never even read the stories before now. She concedes that creating Ayala was rude, but insists that Ayala is her own character now. She says that Aza's anxiety does invite disasters, and that being a witness to that anxiety is exhausting. Daisy says that Mychal says that Aza is like mustard: fine in small quantities, but not so great in large quantities.
Daisy confirms that she created Ayala because she struggled to deal with Aza's issues. Her insistence that Ayala is a fully separate entity from Aza is meant to mitigate the damage, but for Aza, it only proves her fear that she is made up of different identities that are despised by others and are at odds with each other.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Daisy apologizes for the mustard comment, but continues. She says that Aza doesn't even know Daisy’s parents' names or jobs and hasn't been to Daisy's apartment in five years. She says that Aza is privileged and doesn't know it: Aza got braces, a laptop, and has a parent who helps with homework, while Daisy shares a room with her sister. Daisy insists that Aza wants her to be a selfless, poor heroine, but says that being poor doesn't make a person pure or good. Daisy admits that she thought the money would make her more equal to Aza, but she only realizes now that Aza is privileged and too inside her own head to think about other people.
Daisy deeply feels the pain and the weight of what she sees as many years of Aza being selfish and not caring about anyone but herself. She spells out very clearly how much more fortunate Aza is by mentioning "simple" things like braces and a parent who's able to help. She accuses Aza of embracing a fantasy in which poorness equals goodness, which Daisy understands is a damaging narrative because it suggests that people like Davis, who have wealth, are incapable of being good, while people like Daisy are incapable of being bad.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Language and Meaning Theme Icon
Privilege, Power, and Wealth Theme Icon
Aza feels like she's going to vomit. She can't decide if she deserves this or not as she merges onto the highway. As Daisy starts up again, Aza turns to her and asks her to imagine what it's like to actually be stuck in her head with no way out. She says that she's stuck with the mustard all the time as Daisy yells "Holmesy!" They collide with the car in front, the car behind hits them, and another car crashes as well.
Aza finally snaps and actually voices how trapped she feels in her own mind. As Aza loses control of her words (her rant seems more spur-of-the-moment than thought-out and rehearsed), she also loses control of the world around her, resulting in the car crash.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Chaos vs. Order and Control Theme Icon
Language and Meaning Theme Icon
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Daisy asks Aza if she's okay. Aza feels dizzy from the pain and sees spots in her vision. When Daisy asks for Aza's phone to call 911, Aza tries to get out of Harold to get her dad's phone out of the trunk. A woman tries to tell Aza to stay in the car, but Aza struggles, half blind, to Harold's trunk. Harold is crushed in front and back, and Aza can't get the trunk open. Daisy starts yelling that they almost died and Aza is upset about the car. Finally, Aza gets the trunk open. The screen of her dad's phone is shattered, and it won't turn on. She sits back in the driver's seat.
As Aza struggles with her vision, she loses a sense that gives her a way to situate herself in her world and control where she goes. Losing her dad's phone like this also represents the death of that part of her identity and her family, as she can't access the photos in their original format anymore. Daisy is understandably upset that Aza is still so caught up in her own head—the accident was serious and could have been much worse.
Themes
Identity, Selfhood, and Mental Illness Theme Icon
Chaos vs. Order and Control Theme Icon
A firefighter touches Aza's shoulder and tells her to not move. Aza tries to tell him that the phone is her dad's, and the firefighter assures Aza that her dad won't be mad that she got in an accident. Aza starts to cry and blacks out as the firefighters decide if she needs a backboard.
The firefighter doesn't know that Aza's dad is dead, which makes this moment even more crushing for Aza. However, it's worth noting that when the firefighter talks about Aza’s dad in this way, her dad comes back to life briefly through the firefighter’s words.
Themes
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Language and Meaning Theme Icon
Aza wakes up for a moment in the ambulance, and then again in the hospital. Mom is next to her, crying. Aza tells her that Dad's phone is broken. Mom assures Aza that it's okay and collapses, crying, into Daisy. Daisy has a red welt on her collarbone from her seatbelt. A nurse takes Aza away to get a CT scan. She asks Aza if she was in a car accident and notes that seatbelts do damage even though they save your life. Aza asks if she's going to need antibiotics, but the nurse says she's not a doctor. After the scan, the nurse wheels Aza back to her room with Mom and Daisy. Mom cries and paces. Aza tells Daisy that she can go home if she wants, and Daisy decides to stay.
After the accident, Aza can barely remain conscious, but she’s still on high alert about the possibility of being put on antibiotics. Although she doesn’t say so explicitly, it’s clear that she is concerned about antibiotics because she is still thinking about the balance of bacteria inside her body—demonstrating that even in a moment of crisis where she has far more serious health issues to worry about, Aza is still in the grip of her obsessive thoughts.
Themes
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Privilege, Power, and Wealth Theme Icon