Ironman by Chris Crutcher is about a teenage triathlete named Bo who has anger issues. He calls his teacher, Mr. Redmond, an asshole and has to attend anger management classes or he’ll be suspended for a month. Throughout the novel he’s training for Yukon Jack’s, a big triathlon near his home. He meets a girl, Shelly, in Anger Management and starts going out with her. She challenges a college student, Wyrack, to make up a team and race Bo. In the end Bo learns how to control his anger and beats Wyrack’s team.
Clark Fork, Washington
Beauregard Brewster (Bo): Physically fit, skinny teenager
Ellen Brewster: Bo’s mother
Elvis: Bully in AM (Anger Management)
Hudgie: Mentally unstable kid in AM
Ian Wyrack: College swimmer
Jordan Brewster: Bo’s little brother
Keith Redmond: English teacher and football coach at Clark Fork High
Lionel Serbousek: Journalism teacher at Clark Fork High and swim coach for Clark Fork University
Lucas Brewster: Bo’s controlling dad, owns a sporting goods store
Noboru Nakatani: Japanese cowboy, in charge of the anger management group
Shelly: Buff girl in AM
Shuja: Black kid in AM
Bo: Learns to control his anger and tries to resolve his problems with his dad
Elvis: Realizes that he is becoming more like his dad and tries to be nicer
Ian Wyrack: Lost to Bo in the triathlon
Lionel Serbousek: Helps Bo with some of his personal problems
Lucas Brewster: Realizes that he may be wrong in controlling his son's life and tries to be less strict
Noboru Nakatani: Goes back to Texas to deal with his children's deaths
The ideas of this book are pretty clear. It’s mostly about aggression and family issues. An example from Ironman by Chris Crutcher is:
“‘You can’t know what it’s like to be completely disregarded, Bo,’ she said. ‘Maybe some of it has to do have volume, but when you lost football, it was a blessing. When Redmond took basketball from me, he stole my soul. I was young then, I was small. But I’m big now, and I can get it back.’”
Most of the book is in chronological order. Bo’s letters to Larry are in past tense and everything else is in present tense so it was a little confusing sometimes.
I don’t really know much about Mr. Crutcher, but from what I’ve decided he’s like this seems like something he would say:
“I’m able to endure these monster workouts because I welcome physical pain when struggles at school or home heat up. I understand physical pain; I can control it.”
Crutcher’s word choice in this book isn’t extraordinary. I wouldn’t expect it to be when most of the people talking are teenagers. One part that I liked was:
“‘Salt a couple more thousand away, and it’s yours,’ Lucas says. ‘A piece of machinery like this has to be earned.’Bo smiles. ‘Yeah, I guess so. No chance of somebody just plopping one of those babies in your lap.’”
Most of the sentences in the book flow smoothly, unless Crutcher didn’t want them too. Like if someone couldn’t find the right words.
All the conventions are right.
There is a biker on the cover. I think it’s a good picture because it captures what the book is about.
Neurotic people act irrationally to harm themselves or someone else. A humanist psychologist named Abraham Maslow wrote that there were seven basic human needs without which people become neurotic. They are:
1. Air, food, sleep, and shelter
4. High level of self-esteem
5. Desire to become more
6. Desire to learn
Maslow said that aggression is not something that everyone has or needs, just some people's reaction to frustrating circumstances.
Wollenstein says that the government paying trillions of dollars on welfare isn’t going to help end desperation (poverty), it will just create more problems. He says to donate to “voluntary organizations” and get rid of costly regulations.
Envious people hate other people who are successful and rich just because they are successful and rich. Wollenstein says that China and Iran have problems with this because people there think that wealth is “unfair or evil.” I think Wollenstein likes the idea of wealth because he says that paying everyone the same and trying to make them equal kills their incentive to do better because doing better doesn’t mean anything and they won’t get paid or respected more.
Wollenstein says wanting to be wealthy is not the same thing as being greedy. He says being greedy is think about nothing by gaining “material possessions” and not caring what the psychological effects on them and other people might be.
Definition: The principles or system of ownership and control of the means of production and distribution by the people collectively, usually under the supervision of a government.
Collectivism might sound like something good that wouldn’t lead to aggression but it’s not. Some collectivist sayings are:
“The needs of the people take precedence over the rights of the individual”
“The common good”
“The end justifies the means”
If the end is “economic equality and social justice”, does that really justify the means? What if, to achieve this utopia, you had to kill 69,911,000 people? It’s estimated that that is how many people the Soviet Union slaughtered. Hitler and the Nazis killed 6 million “enemies of the state” during World War II, just because they were Jewish or Catholic of anything else different from them.
Wollenstein says, to end aggression, we should:
1. Create free societies where prosperity is normal, not extraordinary
2. Give children a good education and explain about aggression, greed, and envy and how they are irrational
3. Forget the idea of the nation, state, or race having an identity that’s different from the individuals that make up the group
"Collectivism." The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. 16 Jan. 2008.
Crutcher, Chris. Ironman. New York City: HarperTempest, 1995.
Wollstein, Jarret B. “The Causes of Agression.” (June 2001): 6 pp. On-Line. Internet. 15 January 2008. Available: http://www.isil.org/resources/lit/causes-aggression.html.
I think this novel is OK. It’s not amazing or anything but it was sort of entertaining. The whole thing about issues and being angry at your dad was kind of dull. Oh dear, how am I going to write about this for three pages? Anyway, I don’t really remember but like everyone had control issues. (Yes, I got that from the first page. Is that a problem?) Like Bo’s dad HAD to make sure that he learned a lesson. How stupid. Why can’t he just leave the poor kid alone? What a freak. That part at the end, with the therapy and all, that was not cool. I mean, I know there’s supposed to be falling action after the climax but that was just…mind numbing. Wow, I’m cool. Moving on. What else is there to talk about?
Ahh, the Nak Pack. (What an awesome name!) I don’t know what to write about them. I was going to talk about all the different people but then I remembered that I have to do that already in the summary section so forget that idea. Does our school have an anger management class? That seems weird. Are there any angry people? I think I would notice if people were like yelling at me but hey you never know. (This project is making me mad, I may have to join the support group.)
Exercise: Exercise is Bo’s life. That’s all he does! Oh my God! I would like pass out. Actually I would just never wake up. Ewww.
Biking: I suck at biking. My friends make fun of me all the time. I think that’s all I have to say about myself. OK, so Bo hates it and all, too. =D
Running: I HATE RUNNING!!! Die die die. I’m slow. It hurts. I fall down a lot. Running is the most awful thing ever invented (running was invented and you know it). I think Bo actually likes it. What a freak. I mean, miles? I can barely stand the gym warm-up. For conditioning for swimming we had to run a mile just to warm up and then we had to do a bunch of other crap. I like passed out when I got home, so if I had to do that every day…that would just be bad. REALLY bad.
So…sports huh? I’m amazing at this. =/
Swimming: This is the one sport that I like. I’m on the swim team and all. I’m so slow, I couldn’t beat Wyrack to save my life. When we’re swimming a really super slow 500 I feel like I could just keep going forever but I could never swim the 500 in a meet. It would take me like 10 minutes (that’s bad). Anyway, If I was try to go fast, like Bo in the big triathlon at the end, I couldn’t go fast for a long time like he had to. We usually practice sprinting or like 400s or whatever and so if I had to swim like a mile or something like that (I don’t remember how far he had to go) then practicing on a swim team would help some but not like a TON.
Aggression: Most of people in this book have some problems with anger. Like everyone in the Nak Pack, Bo’s dad, Hudgie’s dad, Elvis’s dad, and some other people… They’re not angry all the time, they just have scary outbursts. Is that how real angry people are? I wonder if that’s online. I should probably pick one of these to research. Moving on.
Child abuse: Hudgie, Shelly’s sister and cousin, anyone else? Elvis was too right? Right. Ok, so I feel bad for them of course and I can understand why half of them need to be in anger management. How could Shelly’s relatives just lie and say that their uncle never did anything? That’s really messed up. =(
Racism: Shu. I think he needs to forget about the racist people that he beats up all the time. I mean just let them be all stupid and not beat them up. Then he’d be fine. Good plan right? Of course.
Drinking: Mr. N. I’m sure he was messed up after the accident. I like can’t even imagine that happening to me. That’s the thing that scares me the most about driving. I’m so scared of stoplights. I always think I’m not going to stop or something and kill someone. =O Maybe I’ll just ride the bus until I like can’t go anywhere.
Suicide: Hudige’s mom. This isn’t very important but you know, it happened. And it’s bad.
Gambling: Shelly’s bet with Wyrack. Also, not important. I don’t think this is the bad, addictive kind that’s actually an important problem but you know, it works.
I still don’t know which one I’m going to research. =/
Young Adult Literature (YAL):
“Definition: The genre is usually described as works that involve ideas and transitions that young adults are concerned about, are involved in, or can relate to. Many young adult books have a young adult as the main character as well.” – Mrs. Theis
Ironman is a good example of YAL because it’s about things that teens would understand. Most young adults get mad at their parents sometimes. Their parents probably aren’t usually as bad as the ones in the novel but some people complain like they are. I think a lot of teens would want to read Ironman because it’s easy to understand and the topics are interesting enough to get people to keep going, at least to find out what happens, if they don’t care about the important issues.
Other YAL books by Crutcher:
King of the Mild Frontier
The Sledding Hill
Something Bo might write to Larry at the end of the book:
Hey Lar. This was a pretty good year for me. I’ve learned to control my anger and I haven’t called Redmond an asshole since that first time. That’s quite an accomplishment. I beat that stupid Wyrack, too. What a jerk. I’m proud of how hard I trained for Ironman Jack’s. I think I did really well. It landed me with a book deal with you. I couldn’t do any better? Actually it could, my girlfriend, Shelly, is amazing. My grades probably could be better but it doesn’t really matter because I’m just going wherever she is for college. I might not even go to college. It depends on where Shelly’s career as an American Gladiator takes her.
Catch ya later,
I’m not sure I really like Bo. He’s sort of funny but sometimes he’s trying to be funny and he’s just not. I’m not sure I really like anybody. Hmmm. Oh! Mr. N. He’s pretty cool. Well, I liked him better before he explained all about his accident and all. That was depressing. So, someone else I liked… I sort of liked Mr. S but then the part when Bo goes back to swimming with the team and he’s all like “Bo, that really hurt man.” =/ Weirdo. I didn’t like Hudgie. That’s probably mean but he really freaked me out. I totally would have left the room if he was freaking out. It’s a good thing I’m not a teacher like Mr. N, because I wouldn’t be able to help anyone.
Mr. Crutcher doesn’t really talk about politics in the book. Religion either. Maybe he didn’t want his book to be too controversial but then why write about all the other important issues? I don’t think that’s it. I think he probably just didn’t care. But if he did and he was planning to write about them and he just didn’t then maybe he thought that would turn teens off of his book. =/ I don’t know. I don’ t really know why I wrote about this. Whatever.
Why did Crutcher choose to make Bo a triathlete? Who knows. Maybe he wanted to write about more than one sport. Maybe he wanted to have Mr. S in it without Bo being just a swimmer. Maybe he’s a triathlete himself, I haven’t looked it up or anything. =/ Maybe he wanted Bo’s training to be really intense so he could show Bo’s anger through his vigorous exercise.