"Onion John" by Joseph Krumgold. Discuss the relevance or irrelevance of the book's "message" for teenagers growing up today.

Essay by dld1425A+, April 2003

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Homeless Heroes

Authors like to write tidy stories about growing up. Since everyone's growing up is different, there probably are very few stories that everyone can relate to. "Onion John" is a story about one set of problems a boy encounters as he is growing up. Children want to have someone other than their parents to look up to. "Onion John" is a simple version of how the author tries to show a child looking up to a hero who is actually not the kind of person you would expect to be a hero. By using an unlikely hero, the author is trying to show the reader things like wisdom can be found in unexpected places. However because the hero is a homeless person who sounds mentally ill, the author forces the reader to ignore what they know about certain real things of life. This is a major weakness in the story, which has some good points otherwise.

Because the reader is forced to go along with the fantasy version of homeless people, it is hard for a reader to suddenly get serious in their thinking in order to catch the lessons about life that the author is trying to point out..

By chapter six the author has described little things that show that Andy's father is not listening to Andy. By contrast, the author shows how Onion John listens to what Andy is feeling emotionally and in fact Onion John seems to listen to the vibes of the universe. In the story, Onion John seems closer to arriving at useful solutions to the towns rain shortage than anyone else in the town. While the town depends on weathermen, Andy, Andy's friend and Onion John are involved in a sort of rain ceremony. Ultimately, according to the story,