The Theme Of True Self In A Bad Case Of Stripes

745 words - 3 pages

“Some of the kids at school thought she was weird, but she didn’t
care a bit.” (28) This is how David Shannon describes his character Camilla
Cream at the end of the book A Bad Case of Stripes, but that wasn’t
always the case for Camilla Cream. In fact, at the beginning of this book,
Camilla fears being different and even denies eating her favorite food, lima
beans, in order to fit in. It takes a bad case of stripes, cured only by being
true to herself and her love of lima beans, to teach her not to care that
others might find her weird. This story of Camilla Cream creatively
demonstrates that a person should be who he or she wants to be despite
what others might think.
Camilla’s stripes demonstrate this theme by representing her concern
for what others think about her. As Camilla tries on outfit after outfit to try
to be perfect for the first day of school, the author reveals that Camilla
never eats lima beans, even though she loves them, just because she
wants to fit ...view middle of the document...

The stripes also show how doing only what others want can take over
a person completely. When Camilla returns to school, the recitation of the
Pledge of Allegiance makes her break out in patriotic stripes and stars. (6)
The other students think this is great and start shouting out colors and patterns, and Camilla turns into everything they say. (7) The changing
stripes symbolize how Camilla has always wanted to do what she thinks
others want her to do instead of being true to what she wants. Basing
everything on the opinions of others, Camilla shows, leads to lots of
confusion and frustration! Even the many opinions of the doctors do not
help cure Camilla but cover her in more bacteria- and virus- shaped spots
and even make her turn into the furniture in her room! (13-15, 19-20)
Others telling Camilla what to do has always been the problem because
she has always put others’ opinions over her own, and none of the
opinions of doctors, specialists, and experts can be the cure.
The cure for Camilla’s stripes reveals the theme of her story. When a
kind old lady offers Camilla lima beans as a cure, her first response is to
pretend not to like them so that she can be like her friends who hate them,
but she finally decides not to worry about anyone laughing at her and
admits, “The truth is.... I really love lima beans.” (24) With that, Camilla is
cured, and the lady smiles, “I knew the real you was in there
somewhere.” (26) Hiding her true self inside and pretending to be
someone else to try to fit in has been the problem all along. When Camilla
admits her true opinion, her true self emerges, and the stripes disappear.
At the story’s end, Camilla will never be the same, no longer caring if
people think that she’s weird but doing what she loves and eating all the
lima beans she wants. (28)
No matter what anyone thinks, Camilla shows in her story, everyone
should be who he or she wants to be. She learns the hard way with a bad
case of stripes but finally learns to let go of her worries about what others
might think and no longer allows others to control her choices. Being
herself makes the stripes go away, leaving her forever changed into a
person of self-confidence. The happy Camilla Cream at the end of the
story is who everyone should be, a person free to be who he or she wants
to be.

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