Turtles All the Way Down

by

John Green

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Turtles All the Way Down: Chapter 24 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In January, Aza is eating breakfast in front of the muted TV while Mom hurries around in a rush. Aza sees a breaking news banner on the screen and unmutes the TV. A reporter says that authorities believe they've found Mr. Pickett's body in the Pogue's Run tunnel, and that he likely died of exposure within a few days of his disappearance. The body was discovered after an anonymous tip.
Finally, the mystery is solved for everyone when it's broadcast on television and Aza and Daisy's suspicions are confirmed. Mr. Pickett's death shows that trying too hard to control the spiral of one's life can have disastrous, and even deadly results.
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Aza texts Davis with condolences, and assures him that she and Daisy didn't tell the police. He finally texts back that he and Noah told the police. Mom comes back into the kitchen and suggests that Aza talk to Davis, and Aza relays Davis’s text. Mom wonders why the boys decided to let the estate go to a tuatara, and Aza suggests that they couldn't leave their father in the sewer. She wonders if she was wrong to tell Davis about the jogger's mouth, and Mom tells Aza to be kind to herself. Aza opens up the cut in her finger, which had finally healed. As she re-bandages in the bathroom, she thinks that she'll never beat her illness because it's a part of her.
Aza understands that what Davis and Noah needed more than money was the closure that official recognition of their father's death would bring. They needed closure for themselves even if the results aren't as positive as one might hope. Aza's note about her finally-healed finger suggests that she is indeed getting better, though she understands now that this is something she will be dealing with for the rest of her life. However, she's now able to conceptualize that there will be a "rest of her life."
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Aza thinks that life goes on and people go on. She texts Davis and asks if they can hang out, but he doesn't reply. When Mom says they have to get to school, Aza sits in the car and mentally tells Davis to go on.
Aza uses her mind and her mental language to control how she thinks about Davis. By mentally freeing herself from him, she begins to make peace with the impact he made on her life.
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Aza continues to get better over the next few months. She and Daisy start clubs so they can list extracurriculars on their college applications and hang out at Applebee's most nights. Davis never gets back in contact. Aza misses him, her dad, and Harold.
Although Aza becomes more focused on her future, she also misses the past. This itself becomes a spiral of sorts, though it appears as though Aza is moving along a widening spiral, not a tightening one.
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In April, Aza and Daisy are watching their favorite band perform at an awards show when someone knocks on the door. Aza opens it to Davis holding a large box. He gives Aza the box, and Aza leads him to her backyard. They lie down in the grass and Aza shows him the stars from her backyard, with the branches overhead. Davis says that he and Noah are moving to Colorado. Noah will attend a special school, and Davis will finish high school at a public school. He says he's leaving the next day.
By showing Davis the stars from her house, Aza is finally able to show Davis what her perspective looks like. They look at the same stars, but in an entirely different way: Davis can see them unobstructed from the golf course, while Aza must look up through trees to see them. Moving to Colorado shows Davis privileging his brother's happiness over his own—a mature decision.
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Aza asks what they're seeing in the sky. Davis points out Jupiter and some stars, and Aza asks why they told the police. Davis said that not knowing was eating up Noah. Davis realized that Noah needed to know where his dad was more than he needed money. Aza notices that Davis is crying a bit, and he says that he wants to stay in this moment for a long time.
Davis confirms that Noah needed knowledge and closure more than he needed money. What Noah wanted wasn't something that money, a big house, or a nice school could buy. He wanted love and a family.
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Aza looks at the sky and realizes how big it is. She thinks that Davis must know that spirals do get smaller as they go inward, but they also get bigger if you follow them out, and feeling small under the sky is comforting. Aza realizes that she loves Davis and always will, even if they never said it. She thinks that it won't be terrible to miss him forever.
Aza finally becomes comfortable with the knowledge that Davis will be a part of her forever, in her memory and in her gut microbiome. He shaped her and made her who she is in the future and is therefore always going to be a part of her identity.
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Aza steps out of the story and says she now knows the secret that she didn't know when she lay on the grass with Davis. She knows now that she would go on to grow up and have children. She knows that even though she loves her children, she'd get too sick to care for them and be hospitalized twice, and a doctor would tell her to write her story down. In doing so, she realized that love is a gift, and a person's first love proves that love is how and why we become people.
By framing the story in this way, Aza assures the reader that Dr. Singh was right: Aza will, and does, survive. She goes on to challenge her fears and continue treating her mental illness, though she'll always struggle with it. However, by writing her story down, she realizes that she does have agency over her life and how she frames it. Here, she chooses to frame it hopefully. The note about her having children suggests that she eventually moves past her fear of physical intimacy and “containing multitudes,” since in pregnancy women’s bodies literally do grow and contain another organism.
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However, she says, that night holding hands with Davis under the stars, she doesn't know any of that yet. In the box on her table is the spiral painting by Pettibon with a note on the back, which says that Davis stole the painting from a lizard. The painting will follow Aza from apartment to apartment throughout her life. Aza and Daisy will continue to be best friends. Aza will go to college, get a job, and start her life over and over again. She says that I, as a singular proper noun, will always go on. But on the grass, Aza squeezes Davis’s hand and they say goodbye. Aza remembers that nobody says goodbye unless they want to see you again.
Readers see that in adulthood, Aza experiences many circles, cycles, stories, and frames, just as she has in the course of this novel. She even leaves it ambiguous whether she ever sees Davis again. However, what is abundantly clear is that in adulthood, Aza integrates her different identities into one that's able to handle the endless spirals and conflicting selves that make up a person’s life.
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