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Literature / Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever is the 6th book in Jeff Kinney's Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Like the rest of the series, the book focuses on Greg Heffley, his family, and his friends. As you can tell by the series' title, it seems that nothing goes right for him.

In this book, Greg gets in trouble when he inadvertently vandalizes the school while putting up posters for a holiday bazaar. As if the threat of being sent to jail wasn't bad enough, a snowstorm traps his family inside their house. With Greg's little brother Manny on the loose, what could go wrong?

Cabin Fever provides examples of:

  • Accidental Hero: After Greg asks for money in an unmarked envelope left underneath the church recycling bin, he shovels the entire front of the church looking for the bin while wearing a ski mask. The next day, the newspaper declares him a hero for clearing the way to the church's soup kitchen so poor families can reach it on Christmas.
  • Allegedly Free Game: In-Universe. Net Kritterz is a fictional Virtual Pet game Greg is addicted to. The game requires real money to mainly gain Kritterz Kash, and the pet needs new items to be happy. This causes Greg to beg his parents regularly for money, before he is forced to earn money by himself.
    • One of the features is having your pet watch at least two hours of ads to gain only 25 coins.
  • All-Natural Fire Extinguisher: Greg had a bedwetting problem when he was younger and remembers having a dream about putting out a house fire with his pee because the firefighters' hose had broken.
  • Ambiguous Ending: Did Manny knowingly endanger his entire family, or was he just genuinely unaware of the danger he was putting everyone in? Greg tries to pass it off as the latter, but the fact that Manny had to have manipulated the circuit breaker heavily suggests something more sinister....
  • Annoyingly Repetitive Child: Greg plays a Mad Libs-esque game of "Wacky Sentences" with Rowley, who simply says, "LOL" to all his jokes, and Greg notes that this makes the game a lot less fun.
  • Author Tract: The book mocks games like Webkinz that involve taking care of a virtual pet and require real money to keep a pet happy.
  • A Weighty Aesop: Greg gets hit by this when his school starts promoting good eating habits and replacing all the junk food with healthy food.
  • Big "NO!": Greg has one when he comes home and sees Manny messing with his Net Kritterz account and ruining it.
  • Bizarre Taste in Food: Greg mentions that back when Sweetie (their dog from Book-4) was still living with them, the family sprayed all their furniture with "Bitter Apple Spray" to prevent him from chewing on it. Manny, for whatever reason, loves the taste of the spray and puts it on almost anything/everything he eats.
  • Bland-Name Product:
    • Greg is addicted to an online game called Net Kritterz, a parody of online pet games like Moshi Monsters and Webkinz.
    • Greg and Rowley play a Mad Libs-esque game called Wacky Sentences.
    • Averted with the fake Pac-Man arcade cabinet. The game's (fake) appearance was licensed from Bandai Namco Entertainment themselves, hence why it doesn't get this treatment like the others.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Susan can't see well without her glasses—when her youngest son, Manny, breaks them, she can't get a new pair until after the storm passes.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Rowley brings some home videos and suggests that he and Greg watch some. They're titled "Rowley's 5th Grade Play", "TRIP TO [obscured by another DVD]LIA", and... "Rowley's Birth."
  • Buffy Speak: Embarrassed to say the name "Drummies" out loud, Greg orders them at the Bazaar by calling them "those chicken leg thingies."
  • Central Theme: Confinement. At first it's in the sense of Greg worrying about being sent to jail, but then the blizzard caves him and his family (minus his dad, who's out of town on a business trip) in at their house.
  • Christmas Episode: Christmas approaches as Greg fears that he will be arrested by the police for "vandalizing" the school, and he hopes that he doesn't have to spend Christmas in jail.
  • Commercial Pop-Up: One year during the holidays, Rowley's parents recorded a Christmas special, and at the time it was recorded, there was a snowstorm warning at the bottom of the screen. Whenever Rowley watches the special, he calls Greg to tell him that a storm's coming—Greg claims that he used to fall for it, but when Rowley happened to watch the special during summer vacation, Greg stopped listening to him whenever he called to tell him that a blizzard's coming.
  • Constantly Lactating Cow: Greg mentions that his dad wouldn't let him take home a goat that he won from the state fair. Greg thinks that the goat would be able to give him milk whenever he wants, despite the fact that the goat wouldn't have any kids if it's the only goat that he would have.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: When the bystander caught Greg and Rowley next to the defaced school wall, Greg admits it probably would have been better if they had just explained what happened rather than run away. Confirmed to be the case when the vice principal catches Greg. He clarifies the whole thing was a total accident, and Vice Principal Roy only gives him the reasonable punishment of cleaning up the mess he made.
  • Creepy Doll: Greg's lost Alfrendo baby doll. Things went From Bad to Worse when Greg found it again.
  • Darker and Edgier: Cabin Fever has a far more serious and realistic tone than the rest of the series, with Greg and his family facing the genuine threat of freezing to death in a blizzard.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Greg's school replaces the soda vending machine with a bottled water machine as part of its effort to get its students to eat healthier. Where do they put it? Right next to the water fountain.
    • Greg tries to make a homemade Pac-Man machine for his and Rowley's Holiday Bazaar, in which Rowley sits inside the box operating ghosts glued to pencils while the person playing the game maneuvers Pac-Man from the outside with a popsicle stick. But when Greg starts cutting out the groove where the popsicle sticks are supposed to go, the maze ends up falling inside the box.
      Greg: So I guess we're not gonna make a lot of money on Pac-Man unless people are willing to pay twenty-five cents to see Rowley sitting in a box.
    • When he and Rowley make posters to advertise their Holiday Bazaar, Greg picks the bright green poster board so the posters can be spotted a mile away. Unfortunately, it starts to rain just as the boys are hanging their posters, and the rain causes the poster board to bleed.
    • While shoveling a guy's driveway, Greg tries to find a way to speed up the process. First he tries using a lawnmower to remove the snow, but the lawnmower starts making funny noises until its engine dies. Then Greg tries to melt the snow with a hose and a sprinkler. This works...until the water freezes, turning the guy's driveway into an ice-skating rink.
    • In a flashback, Greg wins a "Student of the Week" bumper sticker and Manny sticks it onto the door of Frank's car. Greg tries scrubbing it off, but barely makes a dent. So he tries scrubbing it off with steel wool, which he figures will work since the car is also made of metal. After removing the sticker, Greg proceeds to scrub the bugs and bird poop off the car, too. But when he rinses the car off, he realizes that the steel wool scratched the paint.
    • Susan decides to forge the signature of the author of Greg’s graphic novel while her son is in the bathroom because she couldn’t be bothered to wait in line. Except she never thought of the possibility that Greg would eventually try to sell it, with her son being very displeased at her for what she did upon finding out through the comic book store owner.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Greg talks about an incident that happened when he was 8—at the supermarket that his family usually shops at, there's a program called the "Cupcake Club" where kids under-8 can have free cupcakes. Greg kept taking cupcakes even after he turned 8 but was worried about getting in trouble every time he did. Then one day, an alarm went off just as Greg bit into a cupcake, and he made a run for it thinking he was going to get arrested. Looking back on it, though, Greg thinks someone might have just accidentally set off the alarm and he had nothing to do with it.
    • Manny warps up the password to Greg's Net Kritterz account, messes up the family's TV's parental controls, cuts the power to the rest of the house save his room, and steals the Heffleys' food and a space heater, all because no one taught him to tie his shoes.
    • Manny throws a tantrum at Greg just because he poured the milk into his cereal bowl first and later didn't put the mustard on his hot dog in a straight line ACROSS it like he wanted.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: After Greg's school stops selling an energy drink called Rowdy Riot, several students who have been drinking several cans of it on a regular basis start to suffer from withdrawal.
  • Eating Pet Food: When the family runs out of food, Greg has become so hungry that he's tempted to have some of the dog treats that his family still have from when Sweetie was still living with them.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Greg talks about a kid named Cody Johnson who accidentally stepped in dog poop at recess all the way back in Kindergarten and ever since then everyone has called him "Dookie" (even the teachers and the principal).
    "Congratulations to Dookie Johnson for getting straight A's in the third quarter!"
  • Embarrassing Old Photo:
    • An ornament depicts young Greg and Rodrick bathing in the sink. Greg says that he has tried to throw that one out multiple times, but Mom won't let him.
    • A picture in a scrapbook is of Greg crying while on a horse, captioned "Help!" and "Gregory isn't happy on his first pony ride." Greg says that he was actually scared of the guy handling the horse even though Rodrick made fun of him by saying he was scared of the horse, who got cropped out of the picture.
  • Enfant Terrible: Nasty Pants, a five-year-old who chases Greg and Rowley with a stick every time they pass by his house.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": "Nasty Pants". It's implied that that's actually his name, however, as Greg calls his mother "Mrs. Pants". Or Greg simply didn't know his name himself.
  • Faint in Shock: In a flashback, Greg passes out (with X's for eyes) when he finds a puzzle box full of crickets.
  • Forged Message: Greg tries to sell his autographed graphic novel in order to obtain money to buy Christmas gifts, only for Susan to desperately try and stop him by saying he should save it for when it is worth more or he'll regret it later. The real reason is that the signature is a forgery made by Susan while Greg was in the bathroom because she couldn’t be bothered to wait in line for the author to actually sign it. A very displeased Greg then mentions that he should have suspected something was up when reading what she had written on it.
  • Fundraiser Carnival: Discussed. Greg recalls having participated in a "walk-a-thon" to earn money for the school and wonders why that even helps. At the end, he is given a "cheap yo-yo" that broke almost instantly and Rowley is given a Chinese finger trap that he gets his fingers stuck in.
  • Gaslighting: Greg believes Rodrick was doing this to him with the Santa Scout.
  • G-Rated Drug: The energy drink Rowdy Riot. After Greg's school stops selling it, kids who drank it regularly start to get withdrawal symptoms like the ones actual drug addicts have.
  • Hypocritical Humor: This book shows that there is no playground equipment at Greg's school. Despite this, the kids are not allowed to sit down at recess, and one illustration shows a teacher yelling at a kid for sitting down when she's doing the exact same thing herself.
  • Karma Houdini: Manny shuts down all power in the house except for his room; steals food, water, toys, and a space heater; breaks Susan's glasses; and leaves the rest of the family for dead during a blizzard. Despite all this, he receives absolutely no comeuppance whatsoever for his actions. Their mother only gives Manny a which he blames all his brattiness on no one teaching him how to tie his shoes.
  • Lie Detector: Parodied when the school is vandalized. The police come there to question the worst troublemakers, but it's obvious that their "foolproof lie detector" is just a photocopier with a label taped to it reading "Lie Detector". Whenever the troublemaker says something they don't like, they hit a button to copy a sheet that says "He's lying". Predictably, they fail to catch the real culprits.
  • Market-Based Title: Cabin Fever is renamed often partly since not every language has a word for cabin fever.
    • Its Swedish title is "Manny's Maneuver'', which is a Spoiler Title about the cause of the blackout that befalls Greg and his family.
    • The Dutch title roughly means "Don't panic!"
    • In Spain, it's called "No exit!"
    • The Latin American title is "Trapped in the snow!"
    • In Brazil, it's called "House of Horrors."
    • In Portugal, the name is "Get me out of here!"
    • Its Vietnamese title is "Stuck."
    • In Italy, it's called "Save yourselves, anyone who can!"
  • Meaningful Background Event:Towards the end of the book, after Greg asks for money in an unmarked envelope left underneath the church recycling bin, he shovels the entire front of the church looking for the bin while wearing a ski mask, the door behind him reads "Soup Kitchen". This is reported on in the local newspaper at the end with Greg being identified as an unidentified hero who made sure that there was no snow blocking the entrance to the soup kitchen.
  • Mondegreen Gag: When Rowley goes to church with the Heffleys:
    Greg: (shaking hands with Rowley) Peace be with you.
    Rowley: No, peas be with YOU! Hee hee hee!
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe: Greg explains that he has a phobia of puzzles because when he opened a box of puzzles once, it was full of crickets.
  • One-Episode Fear: Exclusively in this book, Greg is afraid of crickets.
  • Our Slogan Is Terrible: A box of Bac'n Snax has the slogan "Made with REAL animal by-products" printed on it.
  • Perennially Overshadowed Birthday: Greg says that he feels bad for people whose birthdays fall during holidays (meaning they don't get extra gifts) and is glad his birthday is a few months before Christmas so he gets presents for both days. What follows is an illustration of Jesus receiving a gift from someone who says it counts for both Christmas and his birthday, with Jesus disappointedly thanking him.
  • Plagiarism in Fiction: Greg mentions a time where he tried to write his own book, only for Susan to inform him that what he wrote was an idea someone already did. Because of that, Greg decides to rip off one of his favorite childhood books, Geoffrey the Gorilla, and rewrites it as Geoffrey the Dinosaur. Susan is not pleased at him upon finding out about it, though Greg points out that it should have been rather obvious since the book was rewritten almost word-for-word and that the dinosaur was still swinging on vines and eating bananas.
  • Poster Patchup: After Greg uses a steel wool pad to scrub off a sticker that Manny put on Frank's new car, the paint is scratched clean off. Greg tries to cover this up by putting a letter he wrote himself (pretending that Susan wrote it) over that spot. Frank quickly takes it off and is furious that the paint job is ruined, but Susan convinces him not to punish Greg.
  • Potty Emergency: Greg and Rowley discuss what will happen if Rowley has one of these while in a box. Greg gives him a bottle, but then Rowley asks what happens if he has to go #2. Then Greg says he shouldn't think about that until it's really time to.
  • Potty Failure: It is revealed that Greg had a bed-wetting calendar when he was eight. He once wet the bed five nights in a row.
  • Restaurant-Owning Episode: A subplot in this episode is Greg and Rowley opening up their own "Holiday Bazaar." They get the food right (microwavable chicken wings), but the entertainment (a cardboard box themed to look like a Pac-Man cabinet) and advertising don't go as well.
  • Right on Queue: Susan is mentioned to have almost zero patience for waiting in line, which led to her secretly forging the signature of the author of Greg's graphic novel with Greg being none the wiser. Greg also recalls how at theme parks his mother will usually cut right to the front of lines to take pictures with characters and just take ones with whoever is currently with them, with the family having vacation photo albums full of pictures of random people because of this.
  • Screaming at Squick: Greg does it upon realizing that he accidentally put on Rodrick's dirty underwear.
  • Shout-Out: Greg, annoyed by Manny wanting mustard across his hot dog, talks about watching movies about a preteen finding out he has magical powers and going to a special school.
  • Skewed Priorities: Greg's biggest fear about being sent to prison is the fact that the toilets are out in the open, meaning he would have to use the bathroom in front of everyone.
  • Taking the Heat: In a surprisingly selfless moment from Greg, he decides to not rat Rowley out and takes the full punishment of cleaning the school walls himself. Downplayed as Greg was the leader of the act, which is part of the reason he took the blame.
  • Technologically Blind Elders: Exaggerated when Susan asks Greg to show her how the microwave works. This makes Greg wonder if adults should really be in charge.
  • Throw the Dog a Bone: At the end of the book, Greg gets his picture in the newspaper for shoveling out the snow from the church's driveway, allowing the soup kitchen to open on Christmas. Although they couldn't identify him because he was wearing a ski mask, it's still one of the rare times something good happens to him.
  • Totally Radical: The healthy replacement for French fries is called "Extreme Sports Stix" and comes in a cool box, but it is easily seen to be just sliced carrots.
  • Trojan Veggies: When the middle school replaces the unhealthy food in the cafeteria with healthier food, the French fries are replaced with something called "Extreme Sports Stix," but everyone quickly realizes they're just sliced carrots.
  • Vengeful Abandoned Toy: When Greg was younger, he had a baby doll named Alfrendo that he was really attached to, but one day he came home and couldn't find Alfrendo anywhere. His mom had gotten him the doll to prepare him for having a new baby brother, and Greg didn't want his mom to think he was irresponsible, so he drew a face on a grapefruit and pretended that was his doll (but it eventually rotted and had to be thrown out). To this day, Greg has nightmares about Alfrendo coming back and getting revenge on him for replacing him with a fruit. He illustrates his point with a drawing of himself curled up in bed while Alfrendo scratches at his bedroom window.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Greg talks about an incident where he scratched his dad's car while trying to remove a "Student of the Week" bumper sticker.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The Holiday Bazaar is never mentioned again after Greg is accused of vandalizing the school.
    • Manny hacks Greg's Net Kritterz account and disables it by changing the password, preventing Greg from being able to log in. It's never mentioned again after that, likely meaning Gregory's Little Friend died, or simply that Greg's account was disabled.
  • Xtreme Kool Letterz: The school's healthy replacement for French fries is called "Extreme Sports Stix". It's just a Totally Radical attempt to make sliced carrots cool.