The Friday Everything Changed: Building Understanding

Which Essential Question(s) is addressed in this piece of literature? Content:

a)     What happens in the text/movie/Talk?

b)     What is the main message/theme?


How does the text answer the EQ?

Answer in full sentences. Record relevant quotes and page numbers/lines if needed.

When is it acceptable to challenge the values of society?


Why do people feel the need to conform to society and its expectations?


















Theme statement: If someone who firmly believes in their cause and finds the determination and courage to stand up, change will probably follow.

In FEC a question is posed that challenges society’s expectations, or lack thereof, of girls, and backlash ensues. A divide defines between the girls and the boys, and some of the girls begin to wonder if it was worth it challenging the values of society. The girls consider going back against the question, and pretending it never happened, thus almost conforming to society. The backlash sparks fear in those on the verge of change, but soon, the protagonist ends the feud effectively, and answers the question in favour of the (formerly) oppressed, providing them a privilege only previously granted to the boys.

When is it acceptable to challenge the values of society?

FEC attempts to answer this question throughout the course of the story. The story begins with someone challenging the values of society, but it is uncertain if whether or not is is acceptable. But for the characters in the story, the characters that the reader has an insight to, it feels right. They feel exhilarated to be going against the values of society (“so many bad feelings, and so many new feelings in the air”), and they hope that their goal will be realized. “But all their (the boys) bullying did was to keep us together,” the girls unite over a common goal, and it is proven to be a positive development: “for the first time, us girls found ourselves telling each other our troubles and even our thoughts without fear of being laughed at. And that was something new at our school.” (pg. 8) When their goal is realized (no quote inserted due to spoilers) it could have been questioned whether or not it was for the best. But based on how the girls feel throughout the story – united – the result is the desired.


Why do people feel the need to conform to society and its expectations?

The Friday Everything Changed answers this question partly with its setting. The story takes place in a small school, where all the students of any grade fit in one classroom. They hold tradition to a high standard (“The last hour of school on Friday afternoons was for Junior Red cross”, pg. 3), best exemplified by the water bucket carrying tradition that the story centers around. Therefore, it is easy to understand why the characters are hesitant to stray from their traditions. That is how it has always been, and the results of someone even suggesting to defy it are unknown, which leads to “why are we afraid of change?”. There is a need to conform to peers because that is what we’re used to, and are more or less comfortable (after finding out they can’t play softball: “If it hadn’t been for Doris Pomeroy, we would’ve broken rank right there and then.” Pg. 8) However, as one can see upon finishing the story, the girls fought the need to conform to the society they once knew, and begin their own.



The Mushrooms That Changed Everything (Coincidentally, on a Friday)

Mushrooms             Sylvia Plath

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.


Mushrooms by Sylvia Plath is similar thematically to The Friday Everything Changed by the theme of the underdogs, the little ones. The poem speaks of the ones that no one thinks anything of, and how they make their ascent slowly. The story tells the tale of the students who everyone doubted, but over time, they unite and ascend to the top slowly (“soft fists insist on heaving the needles”) Both works explain the “underdogs”, those that have been oppressed, are making themselves noticed in due time (“Nobody sees us, stop us, betrays us. The small grains make room”). One could draw relations to the theme of female empowerment in both works, what with the quote “We are shelves, we are tables, we are meek”. Shelves and tables are necessary, but no one wishes for them. They are not strong – until they are. Until the “so many” rise above, slowly, without anyone noticing, and they “inherit the earth”. In the case of The Friday Everything Changed, the girls are there – they are necessary for softball. But once The Question is asked, the girls begin to rise to power. They unite, and the fight back. The boys notice, of course, but one day, everything changes. Miss Ralston puts her “foot in the door”, and the girls “inherit the earth”, or in this case, the bucket.

Linear Relationships

KindleThe Kindle can tell you how many minutes is left in the book you’re reading based on how fast you read. It knows how quickly you turn the page, and can thus assume how many words you can read in a minute.

The average secondary school student can read 350 words per minute.

Here is the relationship on a table of values:

t (minutes)     W (words)

1                              350
2                             650
3                             950
4                             1250

The equation is W = 300t + 50

Here the graph of this equation:


Per each minute spent reading, the average high school student can read 350 words. This relationship is shown in the equation (W, words read, and t, time spent in minutes) W = 300t +50.

Introduction Writing Assignment

(I chose to do the assignment on the scene in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl at 21:06 – 24:05: Greg teaches Rachel how to end an annoying conversation,  but due to YouTube’s incompetence, I could not find the exact scene. I have hyperlinked the movie though.)

I own the movie-poster version of the novel Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. My mom bought it for me way back in June 2015, probably because I did really well on a test. That was around the time where I was under a ridiculous amount of pressure I had taken on myself, and the consequences were fairly visible. In exchange for getting mostly A’s on that last report card and barely passing a piano exam, I had dark circles under my eyes, paler skin than usual, and a completely faked air of importance, because I was “busy”. I paid for that about a week later, with a mind-blowing headache as the result of side effects from a meningitis vaccination, a flu that was going around, and severe stress. It was a time in my life where I refused to sit down and relax, to calm myself, let alone sit down and read a novel. I had enough books I needed to read, anyway – no way was I going to read another YA novel about bad things happening to philosophical teens who “aren’t like everyone else” (see, also, and this thing). Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was not that kind of book – it was brutally honest, and the protagonist was a bit of a narcissist, not a hero by any means.

Once I finished the book, it went back on my shelf. It never became a favourite of mine, but I had always wanted to watch the movie. It had been a hit at Sundance, an indie film for the ages, and I’m a sucker for a bizarre film. Plus, for all I knew, it was one of those rare movies that was better than the book. So, about a week ago, upon finding myself some rare free time, I found the movie online (unfortunately, the film has been removed from online pirating websites – but you can still rent it here) and watched the whole thing, until the earliest hours of a Sunday. Sitting in bed in my pyjamas, the charger stretching across the bed to the nearest extension cord, I remembered how impactful and raw the story really is. It’s gritty: the humour can get dark or just plain silly, but then you feel bad for laughing.

It’s mostly about a teen, Greg, who attempts to befriend a long-time classmate, Rachel, upon the urging from his mother after Rachel is diagnosed with leukemia. Their relationship is cold and forced, akin to one of two children who are forced to play together while their parents are downstairs, sipping white wine and eating fancy cheeses. But the scene in question, the one that made me fall in love with this under-budgeted, indie film with stop motion-and-papier Mache scenes, sparks their profound friendship in the weirdest of ways. Greg teaches Rachel how to get out of annoying conversations by faking a seizure, and when Rachel refuses to “practice”, he fakes being dead. He is then scolded by a poster of Hugh Jackman (the funniest monologue in the whole movie, if you ask me), and when Greg starts to apologize for telling the Dying Girl to pretend to die, she pretends to have a seizure. Greg exclaims “Yes! Exactly like that!” and they laugh. End of scene, but the beginning of my obsession with the film.

I love the scene so much because it’s a beginning, the start of something brilliant an eighth of the way in. It shows how Rachel is a character outside of Greg’s view. Prior to this scene, we found her frigid, sarcastic, and unwilling to open up to Greg’s terrible attempts at friendship. We had known her as the product of high school and cancer, but this scene was pivotal in her development to the audience. After this scene, a climax of sorts, Rachel becomes real. We grow to love her as a character, her relationships with Greg and Earl, and that’s what makes the scenes of her treatment so heartbreaking. It also resonates with me, in deeply personal ways that I have tried to explain before. It’s clearly the beginning of a friendship – heck, it directly precedes the screen-card “The Part Where Rachel and I Actually Become Friends” – but it was hard won. It took Greg this long to gain Rachel’s trust, and even if she would say otherwise, Rachel secretly wanted to open up to Greg. However, the scene is short. They share laughter and pure bliss in a single moment, and from then on, their friendship is relatively solid. It shows how hard it takes to get to the tipping point of a relationship, but it’s so easy to go over the edge and care for a person with every ounce of your heart. And it’s not a romantic relationship, which is so refreshing to say in a movie about teenagers. Greg outright denies any sexual tension between them, and Rachel is too proud to fall for her (possibly) best friend.

I think the reason I love Me and Earl and the Dying Girl so much is because it accurately depicts what it’s like to be a teenager, and I encountered the story for the first time at a very stressful point in my life. I later watched the movie during a period where I was still struggling through my identity as a high-schooler. I admit, I still have fears about growing up and taking on more responsibility, but Me and Earl and the Dying Girl reminded me that, no matter how difficult or crappy life gets, there’s always friends, people who care about you, and good times. Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has also influenced the type of stories I write and it nurtured my love for filmmaking, which laid dormant for so many years. Maybe it’s the ~inspiration~ that comes after watching a film centered around a certain activity that almost always flickers out after a couple weeks, but Me and Earl and the Dying Girl has become very influential in my life as a ninth-grader, simply because it accurately describes what it’s like to be a teenager in the 21st century. It’s probably one of my favourite books, and I think if I were to read the novel again, it would become a favourite story of mine. Nonetheless, I will try to remember to stay calm when times get tough, don’t eat weird soup, and if I’m feeling spectacularly awkward, fake going into a seizure. Or making a stupid joke. Apparently that works.