“Teenage Wasteland” By Anne Tyler Sample Assignment

“Teenage Wasteland” by Anne Tyler tells the story of a disturbed teenager, Donny, from the perspective of his mother, Daisy Coble. After Donny’s parents, Matt and Daisy Coble, learn that he is struggling at school, they take various steps to help him improve, including appointing a tutor, Cal. However, all their well intentioned efforts prove useless, as Donny gets expelled from the school and finally runs away from home. This extreme step by Donny forces Daisy to think about what mistake they made as parents. In my opinion, there were several factors which led to Donny running away from home. In this essay, I am going to argue that the Cobles’ parenting style, the strict discipline of Donny’s private school and Cal’s negative influence were together responsible for Donny’s disillusionment which eventually led to his running away.

Since the story is told only from Daisy’s perspective, it is not possible to know all the factors influencing Donny. However, even Daisy’s perspective gives some important clues on what is going on in Donny’s life. Although Daisy tries her best to be a good parent, she obviously fails to connect with her son. It is difficult to pinpoint how and when she starts to alienate herself from Donny, although it is possible that the problem began years ago when Donny’s sister was born and he “acted lost and bewildered” (para 14).

It is obvious that the Cobles care for their children considering that they are studying in a private school and the parents take all the usual steps to ensure that the children do not get into trouble. But perhaps they are too “controlling”, failing to recognize Donny’s transition from childhood to teenage. To a fifteen year old, rules such as not watching TV on school night and talking on phone only after finishing homework would have been too restrictive. It could also have been the reason behind Donny hiding things from his parents. He lies to get around such rules and tells his parents that he does not “have any homework or he did it all in study hall” (para 3).

On the other hand, while they seem concerned for Donny, they are unaware of his falling grades and the poor quality of his assignments, suggesting that the Cobles use only punitive and controlling ways to keep check on their children. Donny definitely feels that his parents are “controlling” and he says as much to Daisy on several occasions. Although it is difficult for any parent to connect with a fifteen year old, they could have been better parents by trying to reach out to him as a friend rather than restricting their parenting to a list of dos and don’ts. Ironically, the only person who is able to connect with Donny is Cal, whose influence proves to be Donny’s nemesis.

Then there is also the issue of “trust” and “self esteem”. These issues are raised several times in the story, first by the psychologist and later by Cal and Donny, giving an important pointer on what the problem could be. Teenage is a difficult time when most children are trying to find their separate identities. However, Cobles’ failure to recognize this and insistence on continuing to treat him as a kid leads to constant struggle, with Donny feeling that his parents do not trust him. The conversation between Cal and Daisy gives some important clues about Donny’s problem. As Cal points out, Donny is a “serious, sensitive kid” who would like to “take on some grown up challenges”. However, the Cobles seem to be “giving him the message that he can’t be trusted” (para 38). As Cal points out, this could be undermining his confidence. It is possible that in their zeal to be good parents, the Cobles went overboard and put too many restrictions on their children. Also, Donny’s falling grades could have been a cry for help from a confused kid who wants to be taken seriously.

Donny’s poor work ethics also reflect poorly on the Cobles. The sloppy way in which he does his homework was not learned overnight and had Daisy paid attention from the beginning, she could have instilled better work ethics in Donny. By the time Daisy learns about Donny’s work ethics, he is already in his teens and trying to teach him at that stage results in stiff opposition.

The role of school in Donny’s downfall is not clear from the story. However, excessive discipline can have counter affects and it is possible that the private school was too focused on strict controls rather than allowing children to explore for themselves. A pointer that this could be a reason for Donny’s negative attitude is that after Donny gets expelled, Cal tells Daisy “That’s a very punitive school you’ve got him in” (para 85).

Although Donny was already lagging when he was introduced to Cal, his interactions with the tutor could have been the final nail in the coffin, which eventually causes him to become so disillusioned that he runs away. Cal is like a teenager himself and encourages children to play games and listen to music rather than do their homework. His approach in dealing with kids seems to be to allow them to do whatever they want to do, without requiring them to take any responsibility for their actions. And he obviously does not care for the kids’ performance at school since Donny’s association with him results in Donny failing in History. This part of the story is significant since the history teacher tries to warn Daisy that things are not improving. But Cal convinces her that everything is normal, giving Daisy false hope. Cal effectively prevents the Cobles from learning anything about what is going on in their son’s life.

Also Cal is not very successful with most of his children since “one of Cal’s students had recently been knifed in a tavern. One had been shipped off to boarding school in midterm; two had been withdrawn by their parents” and then there was “someone who’d been studying with Cal for five years” (para 61). This casual atmosphere at Cal’s place should have warned the Coble’s that everything is not normal. However, they continue to ignore the various indications they get about Cal’s inaptness as a tutor, until it is too late.

Even when Donny is expelled from school, Cal supports Donny and puts the blame on the school instead of asking Donny to take the responsibility. If anything, Cal made Donny even more irresponsible. His interactions with “his kids” (para 15) are far from ideal. According to Carney (2007), people working with teens should be careful about becoming too “friendly” and should not share their personal life with the children. Cal obviously does not follow this rule since he discusses his failed marriage with his “really controlling” (para 59) wife with the children. He is not “like a grownup at all” (para 57) and is a very bad role model to the kids. The club like atmosphere at his home, defending Donny even when he is obviously wrong and not taking any responsibility for the kids’ behavior, all make him seems like “a bit of an evil pied piper” (Gomoll et al, 1991).

Some people may put the entire blame of Donny’s downfall on Cal. However, Cal only worsens a problem which already exists. Donny is already a troubled kid and the parents have to take major blame for this. Had Cal been a better tutor he could have tried to instill a sense of responsibility and prevented the situation from deteriorating further. Unfortunately, he only manages to further alienate the kid from his parents. As a result, when the tutoring is stopped, Donny had nobody to turn to, no friends and no family and so eventually he decides to run away.

It is a complex mix of several factors and no one person can be blamed entirely for Donny’s downfall. Had the Cobles been more understanding, there would have been no need for a tutor. And had Cal been able to make Donny more responsible instead of supporting him even when he is wrong, he could have helped prevent the catastrophe. The strict discipline at school also does not help. Had Donny found a good, positive support system from even one person, the tragedy in the story could have been averted.

Works Cited

Gomoll, Rob et al. “The Round Table: Encouraging Promising Students to Consider the Teaching Profession.” The English Journal 80.1 (1991): 75-77. JSTOR. Web.

Carney, Susan. “Building Trust with Teens.” Suite101.com. 2007. Web.

Tyler, Anne. “Teenage Wasteland.” (1984).

“The Ghost Map” By Steven Johnson


The main idea of the book “The ghost map” (2006) by Steven Johnson, although focusing on the worst cholera outbreak in Victorian London, was in that science develops in accordance to the problems that it has to face. Accordingly, the book traces the way the knowledge is born in progressive relation to the scale of the natural catastrophes the human kind encounters. In that regard, this paper analyzes such statement in the context of the differences in the measurements made by Dr. John Snow, a British physician among the contribution of which is locating the causes of the Cholera outbreak and Henry Whitehead, the two main protagonists in the book, and measurements made by other researchers at the same historical period.


It can be stated that the differences between the data collected by Snow and Whitehead, and other researchers are in their social context. Such social context, which combined with the local knowledge brought by Henry Whitehead, another main character in the story, allowed Snow to indentify the chain of infection, traced back to the source. Such information included the preferences for the water source, washing habits, drinking habits, geographic patterns, relatives’ address, etc. All these data was related to the statistics of deaths and infection, contrary to other researchers who relied solely on statistics.

The acknowledgement of the importance of such data came with the map that Snow draw of the location of the houses, where death occurred. In that regard, initially being an assumption that the water was the cause, Snow’s decision of the importance of the data led to the conclusion through an experimentum crucis, an experiment through which Snow would convincingly prove his hypothesis.

In that regard, it can be stated that the absence of any assessment methods of any discoveries at that time was among the main factors hindering the researchers from acknowledging which data was important. The latter was combined with social and cultural factors, where people, either through word of mouth or through newspapers (Johnson 46), shared the results of such unproved researches, in which a sign of cure, proven or not, contributed to moving in the wrong directions.

The decisions regarding deserving and undeserving data can be critical in data collection, and in turn affect the direction of the research. The latter can be seen through many delusions caused by wrong data collection, caused in turn by social and cultural hindrances in assessing the importance of such data. An example can be seen through Thomas Sydenham, who introduced the “internal-constitution theory of the epidemic, an eccentric hybrid of weather forecasting and medieval huinorology” (132).

The situations in which the cultural and social understanding might bias our decision can be seen through any religion and belief related aspects. It can be assumed that the people at the time of cholera if cured using any useless cure, would refer to the cure as its reason, while if the reason was unknown, people would refer to any miraculous power corresponding to their cultural and social setting. Accordingly, it can be assumed that any data collection, which intentionally or not would destroy the belief in such miraculous power, would contain bias. An example can be seen in the article “Virgin Mary Crying Blood?”, which as the title implies is concerned with a phenomenon of a statue that appears to be crying (Morales). Reading the article and the reaction of the people, it can be seen that they are already biased toward an explanation that is far from science.

Works Cited

Johnson, Steven. The Ghost Map : The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic–and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World. New York: Riverhead Books, 2006. Print.

Morales, Tatiana. “Virgin Mary Crying Blood?”. 2005. CBSNews.com. CBS Interactive Inc. Web.

Ontario Geological Processes: Rock Formations

The objective of this project is to learn about the geological processes that formed some of the rock formations in the province of Ontario. The samples were viewed at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto in the Earth’s Treasures gallery. This gallery contains several hundred mineral and rock samples from around the world. This report will focus on the samples that can be found in Ontario and what processes may have formed them. A sample of 11 minerals both common and rare will be identified, described in detail, and located on a map of Ontario. We will then discuss the history of Ontario and the three geological provinces from which it was formed.

Description of Rock Types

  • Sample Number: 1
  • Grain Size: Very large crystals
  • Color: Mostly transparent with hints of white and yellow
  • Lustre: Vitreous
  • Optical Properties: Mostly Translucent
  • Crystal Form: Trigonal
  • Location: Various Locations

Figure 1. Solid

  • Sample Number: 2
  • Name: Gypsum
  • Grain Size: Large crystals
  • Color: Mostly transparent, hints of beige
  • Lustre: Vitreous
  • Optical Properties: Fiberous / Translucent
  • Crystal Form: Monoclinic
  • Location: Dwyer Mine

Figure 2. Gypsum

  • Sample Number: 3
  • Name: Quartz (Amethyst)
  • Grain Size: Large Crystals
  • Color: Purple and Transparent
  • Lustre: Vitreous
  • Optical Properties: Transparent / Stained Glass
  • Crystal Form: Trigonal
  • Location: Thunder Bay

Quartz (Amethyst)
Figure 3. Quartz (Amethyst)

Figure 4. Chalcopyrite

  • Sample Number: 4
  • Name: Chalcopyrite
  • Grain Size: no visible grains
  • Color: Gold
  • Lustre: Metallic
  • Optical Properties: Opaque, Shiny
  • Crystal Form: disphenoid
  • Location: Bessemer Mine

Figure 5. Galena

  • Sample Number: 5
  • Name: Galena
  • Grain Size: Large 1 – 2” cubes
  • Color: Dark Silver Grey
  • Lustre: Dull Metallic
  • Optical Properties: Opaque
  • Crystal Form: Cubic
  • Location: Davis Quarry

Figure 6. Muscovite

  • Sample Number: 6
  • Name: Muscovite
  • Grain Size: Gravel size grains
  • Color: White and Green
  • Lustre: Vitreous
  • Optical Properties: Mostly opaque, some transparency
  • Crystal Form: Monoclinic
  • Location: Goulding-Keene Quarry, Gutz Farm

Microcline (Feldspar)
Figure 7. Microcline (Feldspar)

  • Sample Number: 7
  • Name: Microcline (Feldspar)
  • Grain Size: 0.5 – 4” cubic shape
  • Color: White, tinted with beige
  • Lustre: Pearly
  • Optical Properties: Opaque
  • Crystal Form: Cubic
  • Location: MacDonald Mine, Diamond Lake Roadcut, Musclow Occurrence

Figure 8. Titanite

  • Sample Number: 8
  • Name: Titanite
  • Grain Size: 1 – 3” crystals
  • Color: Black with some brown edges
  • Lustre: metallix, somewhat metallic, shiny
  • Optical Properties: Opaque
  • Crystal Form: Trigonal
  • Location: Bear Lake Occurence, Bower’s Point Roadcut, Burgess Corundum, Desmont Mine, Diamond Lake Roadcut, Musclow Occurrence, North Baptiste Lake Occurence, Saranac Mine

Figure 9. Pyrite

  • Sample Number: 9
  • Name: Pyrite
  • Grain Size: 0.25 – 3” cubic
  • Color: Gold
  • Lustre: Metallic
  • Optical Properties: Opaque, reflective
  • Crystal Form: cubic
  • Location: Baptiste Lake North Occurrences, Bessemer Mine, Burgess Corundum, Desmont Mine, Egan Chute, Faraday Hill Roadcut, Goulding-Keene Quarry, Grace Lake Roadcut, Warwickite Occurrence

Figure 10. Graphite

  • Sample Number: 10
  • Name: Graphite
  • Grain Size: no distinguishable grains of crystals
  • Color: silver / grey
  • Lustre: Metallic
  • Optical Properties: opaque, reflective
  • Crystal Form: Hexagonal
  • Location: Goulding-Keene Quarry, Saranac Mine


  • Sample Number: 11
  • Name: Hematite
  • Grain Size: 1” diameter spherical bubbles
  • Color: rainbow colored, like motor oil in water
  • Lustre: Vitreous
  • Optical Properties: Opaque
  • Crystal Form: Oolitic
  • Location: Quirk Lake, Musclow Occurrence

Figure 11. Hematite


Rocks’ Formation

The discussion of the research results should be started with the consideration of the processes that facilitated the formation of the eleven rocks whose samples have been observed during the visit to the museum. Thus, samples 1 and 2 are the pieces of gypsum that were formed by the mineral precipitation from saline waters in Dwyer Mine (Rocks, Minerals, and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009). This way of formation facilitated the inclusions of the number of other minerals in this sample and determined its almost completely transparent color and the obvious bubbles of air in its structure (Eyles, 2002). Sample 3, amethyst originating from Thunder Bay, was formed by the interaction of iron elements and radiation that is produced by iron when the electricity or light goes through the crystal. The excessive iron atoms are aligned in amethyst crystals, and this makes them transparent and violet, especially in the sunlight (Eyles, 2002). Sample 4 presents the example of chalcopyrite from the Bessemer Mine, the element formed of copper in its major part. The sample of chalcopyrite was formed by the interaction of copper atoms in the mineral molecules at the low degree of yield which amounts to 25%. Galena, the fifth sample analyzed, is the source of lead mineral ore from Davis Quarry. The completion of the mineral’s formation takes place after its exposure to air when it turns from transparent to dull iron (Rocks, Minerals and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009).

Sample 6 among the analyzed mineral pieces is the example of muscovite, the rock mineral type which is considered to be the so-called primary mineral. The sample under consideration was found in Goulding-Keene Quarry (Rocks, Minerals, and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009). Muscovite can be observed in various forms and either yellow color or a colorless state. Microcline, also known as feldspar, is the seventh sample among the considered minerals. This mineral sample originates from MacDonald Mine. Usually, microcline is observed in the plutonic felsic rocks, but can also be observed in high-grade metamorphic veins, pegmatites, and hydrothermal veins. The mineral is characterized by the high degree of hardness, 6 – 6,5, and by the reduced cell parameters (Rocks, Minerals and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009). The eighth sample under analysis is the piece of titanite found in the Bear Lake Occurrence and several other locations. This mineral is the composition of such elements as calcium, titanium, silicon, aluminum, iron, and fluorine. The ninth sample, pyrite, originates from Bessemer Mine. It is a primary mineral that can be observed in several geological structures including metamorphic rocks, veins, etc (Eyles, 2002). Graphite, the tenth sample under consideration, originates from Saranac Mine. It is formed in platelike particles with hexagonal or broken edges. Hematite, the eleventh sample originating from Quirk Lake and Musclow Occurrence is formed by sedimentary minerals, high-grade ores, and extrusive rocks (Eyles, 2002). On the whole, the samples under analysis present the minerals that are found most often at basins, mines, and sediments of Ontario. The development of the very places of origin of these samples also presents considerable interest for the study of the geology of Ontario.

Area Structure

The below presented geological map illustrates the distribution of the discussed, and other, minerals over the territory of Ontario. Displaying only the major units of the geological division of Ontario, the map allows seeing which minerals are in substantial supply in Ontario, and which ones can be found not so often, and what the major sources of those minerals are:

Geological map
Figure 12. Geological map

Thus, the southern part of the territory is characterized by rich gypsum deposits retrieved at the Dwyer Mine (Plummer & Carlson, 2007). The formation of the deposits is the result of the past coverage of the south of Ontario with water which provided for the favorable gypsum-forming conditions. The south of Ontario is also rich in chalcopyrite and galena. This fact allows arguing about the considerable copper ore and lead supplies concentrated in the south of Ontario (Plummer & Carlson, 2007). Copper ore, serving as the basic element of chalcopyrite, and the lead ore as the basis of galena, are the most widespread elements in the area. The northern areas are characterized by substantial amethyst supplies, observed especially in Thunder Bay (Rocks, Minerals and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009). The conditions that provide for amethyst deposits are constructed by the excessive iron supplies and somewhat increased radiation levels observed in geological formations in the north of the territory of Ontario (Rocks, Minerals, and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009).

The eastern and northern parts of Ontario are also characterized by considerable mineral deposits. In the east, Ontario is rich in muscovite, microcline, and titanite observed in Goulding-Keene Quarry, MacDonald Mine, and Bear Lake Occurrence respectively (Rocks, Minerals, and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009). Being the sources of primary minerals, Goulding-Keene Quarry and MacDonald Mine develop as the geological formations in which muscovite and microcline can be formed, i. e. pegmatites, felsic rocks, high-grade metamorphic veins, and hydrothermal veins (Plummer & Carlson, 2007). Titanite as the sample demanding the whole variety of minerals for its composition develops in the east only where the natural supplies of calcium, titanium, silicon, aluminum, iron, and fluorine are enough for this process. The west of Ontario is the territory that offers considerable deposits of pyrite, graphite, and hematite, and it is the nature of these minerals that makes the deposits develop in the way they do(Rocks, Minerals, and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009). Thus, Bear Lake Occurrence and several minor locations like Burgess Corundum, Desmont Mine, Egan Chute, Faraday Hill Roadcut develop as copper-containing deposits of minerals used in various industrial purposes (Eyles, 2002). Saranac Mine, as well as the Quirk Lake and Musclow Occurrence, are well-known graphite and hematite sources whose products are used not only for scientific but for economic and industrial purposes as well (Rocks, Minerals and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009).

Moreover, Ontario is subdivided into three main geological provinces; they are Superior Province, Southern Province, and Grenville Province (Rocks, Minerals, and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009). Superior Province is the oldest one in Ontario with an age of over 3 billion years. It covers almost the whole northern part of it. There are 12 smaller subprovinces in Superior Province, and they are divided by faults and geological formations. The four major minerals and rocks observed in Superior Province include granite-greenstone formations, sedimentary, plutonic, and high-grade formations created from volcanic and plutonic rocks and greenstone slices. Rock of this province was formed from ancient sea floors and volcanoes to form long belts of volcanic rocks in the modern superior (Eyles, 2002).

Southern Province dates back to 2.49 – 2.21 billion years, and consists of the rock sediments whose thickness amounts to the range between 3,000 to 15,000 meters. The rocks of the Southern Province were formed mainly by winds, rivers, and glaciers that affected the ancient ocean. The mountain-building period took place when Ontario collide3d with another continent part in pre-historic times. 1.11 billion years ago the Southern Province collided with the Sudbury meteorite that brought lots of minerals like granite, greenstone, etc. to the area and facilitated the formation of volcanic rocks in the province (Rocks, Minerals, and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area, 2009).

The Grenville Province was formed as the result of Earth’s crusts collision that led to the formation of major mountain ranges from terranes in the time frame of 1.76 – 1 billion years ago. Between 1.8 and 1 billion years ago, the metamorphic rocks were formed by numerous stretches and twists of Grenville rocks. Grenville Province consists of two major belts; they are Central Genesis Belt and Central Metasedimentary Belt (Plummer & Carlson, 2007).

To conclude, Ontario is a mineral-rich province whose major rocks include such varieties as gypsum, amethyst, pyrite, graphite, hematite, and many others. These elements can be primary and complex, their distribution is carried out according to the geographical principle and the past historical conditions of the region. The use of the minerals in Ontario includes scientific, collecting, and industrial purposes.

Works Cited

Eyles, Nick. Ontario Rocks. Markham, ON: Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2002.

Plummer, C. & Carlson, D. Physical Geology. McGraw-Hill Science/Engineering/Math; 12 edition, 2007.

“Rocks, Minerals and Mines of Ontario Canada in Ontario’s Algonquin Park and area.”2009.

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