The novel “Dry” by Neil Shusterman takes the reader on a journey following a group of mismatched teenagers through a lengthy and deadly drought in future Southern California. The story begins following two siblings, Alyssa and Garrett, who search for their parents with the help of their geeky neighbor Kelton, after they do not return from scavenging for water. The unlikely friends end up traveling with a dangerous seeming girl, Jacqui, who agrees to take them in her car to Keltons bugout, where they promised water. Immediately after meeting Jacqui, Kelton developed a deep mistrust of her which was rooted in her age superiority and his own insecurities. This mistrust was mirrored by Jacqui as she worked to maintain the upperhand on Kelton and the rest of the crew. Benjamin expressed that mutual recognition can only be achieved after both parties acknowledge that the other has a similar center of experience. This lack of mutual recognition was highlighted after Jacqui forcibly took over the drivers seat from Kelton claiming she was the better driver. Towards the end of the story, as Jacqui is about to make a reckless and impulsive decision, the reader witnesses Keltons internal dialogue where he expresses that he sees Jacqui as one of the group and acknowledges that she is just as scared and lost as the rest. This crucial turning point for Kelton was reciprocated at the end of the novel where we meet Jacqui again and she is kind and respectful towards Kelton and the others, an action the reader had not seen before. The newfound mutual recognition between Kelton and Jacqui was great character development throughout the story and also solved an underlying unresolved conflict.
The lack of mutual recognition in the short story, “Escape from Spiderhead”, was demonstrated through the relationships between the criminals and the scientists. Although the participants had to verbally consent to take part in the experiments, this option could be taken away through simple paperwork. After Jeff will not agree to watch Rachel go through extreme agony, the scientist Abnesti states, “‘What good’s an obedience drug if we need his permission to use it?'” (Saunders 75). Abnesti wants to take away all control that has been given to Jeff. This power imbalance represents Abnesti’s lack of recognition that Jeff is still a person who should have control over himself. The absence of mutual recognition in Abnesti’s relationships with the participants leads to a growing mistrust and strong dislike of the scientist by the criminals.