Neal Shusterman’s Unwind is set in a future world where a process called Unwinding has been developed. Unwinding is the process of taking young people between the ages of 13 and 18 and surgically removing their organs to be used for transplantation. The idea behind Unwinding is that it gives people a second chance at life by using the organs of those who are no longer alive.
The Unwind Dystology follows the stories of several different characters who are all affected by Unwinding in different ways.Connor Lassiter is a “troubled” teenager who has been sent to an Unwind facility after his parents decide they can no longer deal with him. He is determined to escape and find a way to stop Unwinding from happening to other kids.
Lev Calder is a “harvester” who works at the Unwind facility where Connor is being held. He is responsible for collecting the organs of Unwinds and delivering them to the people who need them. Lev begins to have doubts about what he is doing after meeting Connor and seeing the humanity in the kids who are being Unwound.
Risa Ward is an Unwind who has been scheduled for harvest. She is a ward of the state and has no family to support her. Risa is a talented musician and she uses her music to try and escape her fate.
In a number of novels, the main characters fight to establish their personalities as their lives progress and change who they are. In Neal Shusterman’s Unwind, one of the major characters, Lev Calder, changes dramatically over the course of the book. When we first meet Lev in the beginning of the book, he is portrayed as a naif conceited tithe looking forward to his unwinding. By the conclusion of the book, Lev has grown into an autonomous and rebellious young man actively opposing his unwinding.
In this essay, I will explore the changes in Lev’s personality and how they are brought about by the events in the book. When the reader first meets Lev, he is a tithe, meaning that he has been raised by his parents to be unwound. Unwinding is the process of taking a child between the ages of thirteen and eighteen and harvest their organs for donation.
Even though Lev knows that he is going to be unwound, he does not really understand what it means. He thinks that he will simply go to sleep and wake up somewhere else, without really understanding that he will be killed in the process.
This can be seen when Lev says, “I know that being unwound doesn’t hurt. I know that because it’s been done to animals for centuries, to help make other animals better. So I don’t have to be afraid” (Shusterman 8). Lev’s naivete is also evident in his interactions with the other characters in the book. He does not really understand the concept of love or friendship, and he is always trying to figure out what these things mean.
For example, when he first meets Connor, one of the other main characters, he does not really understand why Connor is so upset about being unwound. He says, “I don’t get it. Why are you so worked up about this? You knew it was going to happen eventually…You’re not even really a person anymore. You’re just parts” (Shusterman 34). Lev’s lack of understanding about unwinding and the people around him show how naive he is at the beginning of the book.
His transformation from a naïve tithe to a rebellious clapper has significant repercussions on the plot and makes him one of the most intriguing characters to follow. Lev’s parents throw him a tithing party for his thirteenth birthday. He will be “tithed” or sacrificed when he reaches the age of 13 as part of his religion. Lev thinks he is “special,” remarking, “As if he was like those other children whose fathers signed an unwind order to get rid of him.” In fact, it can’t be further from the truth for Lev. He is the pride and joy of his family.
His grandfather tells him that he is to be tithed because he is special, and that it’s an honor. Lev’s mother seems more reluctant, but goes along with what his father says. His little sister, Gracie, is the only one who knows that Lev doesn’t want to be tithed. When the day comes, Lev tries to run away, but is caught by his father and brought back. He is drugged and taken to the harvest camp where he will be “unwound.”
At the camp, Lev meets Connor, a rebellious clapper who has been caught and brought in for unwinding. Connor tells Lev about the underground railroad that helps kids escape from being unwound. He also tells Lev about Risa, a girl who was Unwind.
Connor and Risa are both on the run from being caught and unwound. They are trying to make it to the harvest camp so they can be rescued by the underground railroad. When they get there, they find that Lev has been captured by the authorities and is being held for unwinding.
In the same vein as in school, MVP in little league. It’s just because he’ll be unwound that doesn’t imply he’s an Unwind; rather, it implies that he is “untiered.” (Shusterman 31) By pointing out that he isn’t “like other children,” Lev displays his superiority and hubris, as well as his limited perspective of the world. Because of being labeled “special,” Lev was shielded from the harsh realities surrounding his fate and prevented from seeing through his parents’ deceptions, requiring him to rely on others.
Unwind begins with a teenage boy named Connor Lassiter, who has run away from home to avoid being unwound. Unwinding is the process of taking selected body parts from teenagers and transplanting them into other people to save their lives. When he’s caught by Juvey-cops and about to be apprehended, Connor grabs a hold of Lev Calder, an Unwind waiting to be unwound. Unbeknownst to Connor, Lev is “special.” He was conceived as part of a religious rightwing pro-life movement called the Proactive Citizenry.
The goal of the Proactive Citizenry is to make society better by weeding out troublesome teens before they become criminals or burdens on society. In order for this to happen, Unwinds must be created. Unwinding is when the parts of a troublesome teen are harvested and given to other people who need them. This is seen as a selfless act, because it saves the lives of others while getting rid of problem children.
Connor, on the other hand, is not so sure that unwinding is a good thing. He believes that it is wrong to kill teenagers just because they are deemed problematic. This belief leads him to run away from home in order to avoid being unwound himself.
When he meets Lev, Connor sees an opportunity to save someone from being unwound. He kidnaps Lev and takes him on a cross-country journey to find a safe haven for Unwinds. Along the way, Connor and Lev are joined by a teenage girl named Risa Ward. Risa is a ward of the state who was scheduled to be unwound because she is considered to be a burden on society.
The three teens must deal with the dangers of being Unwinds on the run. They are constantly pursued by Juvey-cops and bounty hunters who are looking to capture them and return them to their respective homes. They also have to worry about Akila, a member of the Proactive Citizenry who is hell-bent on capturing Lev and returning him to his parents.
Throughout their journey, Connor, Lev, and Risa must confront the reality of their situation. They must come to terms with the fact that they are Unwinds and that their lives are in danger. They must also grapple with the moral implications of unwinding. Is it right to kill teenagers just because they are deemed problematic? Is it right to harvest their organs and give them to other people?
Connor, Lev, and Risa must ultimately decide what is more important: their own survival or the survival of the Unwinds. In doing so, they must confront the harsh realities of their situation and make some tough choices.