Turtles All the Way Down

by

John Green

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Turtles All the Way Down: Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Aza wakes up the next morning and spends much of her morning procrastinating about texting Davis. She remembers that right after her dad died, she could still think of him as though he were real. Gradually, it became harder to picture him. Aza thinks that he's still dying in her memory.
Aza realizes that Davis is still going through the process of remembering and grieving his dad. Davis can likely still picture his father, but Aza fears that telling Davis the truth about his father will cause Davis to begin forgetting his father.
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Aza finally texts Davis and asks him to come over. He agrees to come at 5:30pm. The day moves slowly, and Aza tells Mom at a quarter to five that Davis is coming over. Mom asks if Aza feels anxious, and Aza asks if it's possible for her to just say something when she's having mental health problems rather than have to answer the constant questions.
Aza asks Mom for trust, which allows her to be independent and ask for help when she needs it (assuming Mom is able to do what Aza asks). This will allow Aza to further cement her identity and grow up.
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Mom goes out to run errands, and Davis knocks on the door a bit later. Aza motions for him to sit down and tells him that the jogger's mouth is the mouth of Pogue's Run tunnel. She says she thinks Mr. Pickett might be down there and that there was a bad smell. Davis looks scared and starts to cry. He collapses into Aza, and she realizes that Noah isn't the only one who misses his father. They realize that there hadn't been communication because he'd been dead the entire time.
Knowing his dad is likely dead has a very different effect on Davis than it did on Aza. For Davis, this is closure and an answer to a mystery. However, now begins a new process for Davis: that of truly grieving the death of his dad rather than just the possible loss. Davis’s emotion here shows that he's also just a kid who needs a parent, much as he tries to assume the identity of a responsible adult.
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Chaos vs. Order and Control Theme Icon
Aza and Davis lie on the couch. Davis asks what he should do now. Aza says that he needs to keep going and has seven years until his father is legally dead. When Davis says he has nobody, Aza reminds him that he has Noah, which sends Davis sobbing again. Davis and Aza cuddle until Mom gets home, which makes them jump. Davis insists on leaving, even though both Mom and Aza say he can stay.
Davis realizes he now has the responsibility of carrying this secret alone, or of shattering Noah's idealistic ideas about what became of their father. Davis has a great deal of power with this knowledge. How, when, and whether Davis tells Noah will change Noah’s life.
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Later that night, Aza tries to text Davis. He doesn't reply, so she texts Daisy to come over. An hour later, the girls sit on Aza's bed. Aza reads the new Ayala story and giggles. Daisy notes that everything worked out in the end: the heroes got rich and nobody got hurt. Aza points out that she lacerated her liver, Harold died, and Mr. Pickett is also probably dead. She says that happy endings either aren't actually happy or aren't actually endings, and everyone dies anyway. Daisy insists that you get to choose your beginnings and endings, and pick how you frame your life.
Even though the girls are most certainly at the beginning of their lives, they recognize that this chapter is closing for them. Daisy, however, encourages Aza to simply take a different frame and use the power of language to take control of how she sees and makes sense of her life. It's unclear if Aza really takes Daisy's advice, as this is the end of the novel. For readers, at least, Aza's story is coming to a close.
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Davis never texts Aza back but does update his blog. His final post says that he knows nothing lasts, but wonders why he still misses everyone.
Davis provides himself closure through writing on his blog, though whether or not he actually feels closure is left undetermined.
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