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A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive Study Guide & Plot Summary

Dave Pelzer
This Study Guide consists of approximately 46 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Child Called It.
This section contains 584 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive Study Guide

A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive Summary & Study Guide Description

A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive by Dave Pelzer.

Plot Summary

A Child Called It is a heart wrenching true story about one child's survival of one of the worst child abuse cases ever reported in California history. Dave Pelzer lived in a world of starvation, cruelty, and torture from the age of four until his rescue by courageous school officials at the age of twelve. This autobiography will both horrify and inspire all who read Dave's incredible journey through the dark insanity of his mother's rage.

Dave was washing the dishes, hoping he could get done quick enough to avoid his mother's rage and to have the opportunity to eat some breakfast. Although he does not do the former, Dave was allowed the leftovers of his brother's cereal. Mother drove Dave to school today, although she normally forced him to run. At school, Dave was called to the nurse's office so she could inventory his injuries, a routine they have carried on for quite some time. This time was different, however. This time, the nurse called in the principal. Very soon, Dave found himself being rescued.

Dave was part of a typical family, a good family. Dave felt love from both his parents, especially on holidays and special trips into town while his father, a fireman, was working a twenty-four hour shift. However, things began to change. Dave's mother began to drink and was depressed. During these drinking binges, Mother would take out her negative feelings on Dave. It began with long stints in the corner and quickly progressed to beatings, one such beating that caused Dave a broken arm.

Mother's rage seemed focused on Dave only, excluding his two brothers. Soon, the abuse also included such mental punishments as starvation and long stints in cold baths. When mother gave birth to two more sons, the punishments only became harsher, as the privileges of the other boys became more luxurious. Dave would often spend time lying in the cold bath while listening to Mother sharing fun times with the other boys, like telling scary stories on Halloween and opening presents on Christmas. Dave was excluded from all family events, Christmas especially. In fact, Dave was not even allowed to sleep in the house, relegated instead to the garage.

Mother never tried to hide her abuse of her son, forcing him to go to school in clothes he had been wearing for months at a time and filling him with stories to tell anyone who should ask about his bruises. When officials would become suspicious, Mother would charm her way out of interviews or con Dave into believing the worst was over, and she would no longer torture him. Father was Dave's only protection. When Father was home, Mother's punishments were never as severe. However, Father failed to protect Dave on most occasions. The night Mother accidentally stabbed Dave while threatening his life, Father refused to intercede, instead more afraid for his own sanity, when Mother learned Dave has told on her.

Soon, Father stops spending much time at home, eventually moving out of the house. Dave now realized that his hopes of being rescued are a fantasy that will never come true. Dave no longer cared about avoiding his mother's rage. Now, Dave sought out her rage, hoping that she would kill him and give him refuge from the pain. However, months after Dave once again found the strength to pray, he was rescued by courageous officials at his elementary school. Dave grew up, became a father, and made peace with the horrible abuse he suffered as a child.

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This section contains 584 words
(approx. 2 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive Study Guide
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A Child Called It: One Child's Courage to Survive from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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