Turtles All the Way Down

by

John Green

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Turtles All the Way Down: Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On her way to history class, Aza checks the "Human Microbiota" Wikipedia article again. Her mom yells at her from her classroom to put her phone away, and Aza goes into her mom's classroom. Aza’s mom (to whom Aza refers throughout the rest of the book as “Mom”) asks Aza if she's "not anxious," and confirms that Aza has been taking her meds. Aza tells the reader that she takes her meds about three times per week, though she's supposed to take them daily.
Aza is receiving two kinds of care for her anxiety: she has already mentioned Dr. Singh, her therapist, and now it becomes clear that she also receives help in the form of medication. Although it seems she tries to use what she's learning in sessions with Dr. Singh (breathing exercises), she's much less willing to use the medication to help herself feel better.
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Chaos vs. Order and Control Theme Icon
Mom begins to say that Aza looks anxious, but Aza interrupts and asks who decides when the school bells ring and how long class periods are. Mom says that someone at the superintendent's office decides those things and that Aza's brain seems an intense place. Aza muses out loud that she's living on someone else's schedule, and Mom remarks that in regard to bells, schools are much like prisons.
Aza is extremely concerned with the fact that she's not in control of her life at school, and Mom's comment about prisons suggests that she at least shares some of Aza's thoughts, if not concerns, about the regimented nature of schools.
Themes
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Privilege, Power, and Wealth Theme Icon
Mom asks if Aza is going straight home after work, and Aza explains her after-school plan with Daisy. When Aza says that Daisy is working at Chuck E. Cheese's to save money for college, Mom begins her "cost of college rant." Aza says that if she doesn't win the lottery, she'll sell meth to pay for school. She leaves for History class when the bell rings.
Although this conversation suggests that neither Daisy nor Aza are able to pay for college outright, Daisy is taking concrete steps to save money while Aza's comment is obviously a joke. This shows that the question of how to pay for school isn't as pressing for Aza. Nevertheless, it also shows that going to college is not a privilege to be taken for granted by either character.
Themes
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After school, Aza finds Daisy already sitting in Aza's car (which she calls Harold) drinking a carton of school milk. Aza reminds Daisy that there will be no non-clear liquid inside Harold and makes her throw the milk away. Aza tells the reader that she takes the idea of real love very seriously and found it with Harold, a teal Toyota Corolla that used to belong to Aza’s dad. When she turned 16, Aza spent all of her saved money to get his clunky engine running.
The novel continues to subtly suggest that there is a class difference between Aza and Daisy’s families: Daisy is actively working to earn money for college, while Aza spent her life savings on fixing a car with sentimental value to her. Giving her car a name gives it an identity—making it a "he" rather than an "it”—a further testament to its importance to Aza. 
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While driving Harold, a person had to choose between driving in silence, listening to the radio, or listening to Side B of a Missy Elliott cassette that won't eject from the player. Aza says that this imperfect system changed her life as she and Daisy scan radio stations. Daisy stops on a news report about Davis Pickett Sr., who disappeared mysteriously the night before the police were set to raid his home and arrest him for fraud and bribery. Mr. Pickett's company, Pickett Engineering, is offering a $100,000 reward for information regarding his disappearance.
Again, Aza recognizes that there are forces beyond her control that influence her fate. In this passage, she is focused on the selection of sounds inside Harold. For both Daisy and Aza, $100,000 is clearly a lot of money, which makes this report particularly intriguing for them. Money and class are a major theme in the novel, as the desire for money provides the characters’ primary motivation for getting involved in Mr. Pickett’s case.
Themes
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Privilege, Power, and Wealth Theme Icon
Daisy yells excitedly that Aza knew Mr. Pickett's son. Aza explains to the reader that for two years after fifth and sixth grade, she and Davis both went to "Sad Camp," a camp for kids with a deceased parent. They saw each other intermittently while not at camp since they lived just across the river from each other: Aza on the side that floods, and Davis on the side with stone walls that cause Aza's side to flood. Aza insists to Daisy that Davis wouldn't remember her, but Daisy assures her that nobody could forget her.
Although the novel makes it very clear that Davis is wealthy while Aza is solidly middle-class, their shared experience of loss acts as an equalizer here. At "sad camp," kids are the same because they've lost a parent, regardless of their families’ financial situations. The knowledge that Aza lost a parent also explains why Harold is so important to Aza: he gives her a way to remember her dad.
Themes
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Privilege, Power, and Wealth Theme Icon
Daisy continues to talk about the reward money, and Aza says she has homework and can't solve the mystery of Mr. Pickett tonight. Daisy quotes a pop song to convince Aza to join her in solving the mystery. They laugh and Daisy begins reading an article on her phone about Mr. Pickett's disappearance. She reads that there are no surveillance cameras on the Pickett property and therefore no information on Mr. Pickett's disappearance. Daisy asks what billionaire doesn't have security cameras. Aza thinks about it and remembers that Davis and his brother had a motion-activated camera with night vision.
The reward money is a huge motivator for Daisy, while it doesn't seem particularly intriguing for Aza. This suggests that Daisy has more to gain by earning the money than Aza does. Quoting pop songs becomes a way for Aza and Daisy to use language to connect with each other. The songs can be fun to sing, but the girls can also plumb them for more or different meanings as needed. It’s one of many examples of literature and art providing a means for characters to express themselves to each other indirectly.
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Daisy insists that she and Aza now have a lead. She tells Aza to exit off the freeway. Aza does and gets back on the freeway in the other direction, which will take them back to Aza's house. Daisy calls her boss and says she has the stomach flu, then asks Aza if she still has her canoe.
Again, the possibility of $100,000 is far more compelling for Daisy than the $8.40/hour she makes at Chuck E. Cheese's. Her determination to get the money marks her as a character who is very much rooted in the real world, unlike Aza.
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