Benediction Summary & Study Guide

Kent Haruf
This Study Guide consists of approximately 37 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Benediction.
This section contains 603 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Benediction Summary & Study Guide Description

Benediction 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 Quotes and a Free Quiz on Benediction by Kent Haruf.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Haruf, Kent. Benediction. Vintage Contemporaries/Vintage Books. First Vintage Contemporaries Edition, January, 2014.

Benediction is a contemporary novel by Kent Haruf. Dad Lewis, a Holt, Colorado resident, is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Shortly thereafter, he forms a circle of several people around him. Dad accepts the diagnosis with grudging resignation. He only has a few months left to live. He decides that he will spend them as well as he can. Fearful of becoming an addict, Dad refuses to take pain medicine until the end. He focuses on getting his affairs in order. These include making sure that his wife (Mary) and his daughter (Lorraine) know just how much he loves, appreciates, and approves of them. It also includes ensuring that Lorraine will take over as manager of the family’s hardware store and that Rudy and Bob, longtime employees, are willing to accept the change in management. Dad also hopes to see his son, Frank, one last time, that does not happen. Many years before, when Frank was a teenager, he and Dad had a falling out over Frank’s homosexuality. This led to Frank leaving home after high school graduation.

Now in the present, Mary is determined to try to find Frank before Dad dies. Mary traces his last known whereabouts in Denver, but she is unable to find him. She learns that Frank has left Denver, but nobody knows where he has gone. In the meantime, Lorraine grows closer to Dad. She takes his advice that the man she is currently dating is not good enough for her. Dad also has a number of other visitors, including the Johnson women, Reverend Robert Lyle, and neighbor Berta May and her granddaughter, Alice. Alice’s mother has died of breast cancer, so Alice has come to live with Berta. The Johnson women –including elderly widow Willa and her unmarried daughter, Alene, decide they will help Berta out by spending time with Alice. They buy Alice clothes and a bicycle, things that Berta cannot afford. They do not say this to Berta, but merely say they want to spend time with Alice because they themselves are lonely and miss family. Alene remains heartbroken over a failed affair with a married principal some years before. Alene worries what her future will be like.

Reverend Lyle stirs up anger and resentment in town when he preaches about turning the other cheek during a time of war. The anger leads to Lyle being roughed up one night. Lyle’s unpopular views were what had the church send him to Holt in the first place. Lyle’s wife has enough and decides to leave him. She tells him she will send for their son when she is settled.

As the summer winds down, Dad’s health begins to deteriorate quickly. He grows thinner and weaker. He sleeps more and more. Eventually, he even must begin taking medicine to handle the pain. People continue to visit when they can, but Dad is often not awake to receive them. When it becomes apparent that Dad’s time is short, people come to say goodbye.

In Dad's mind, Dad goes to see Frank. At the end of the summer, Dad passes away. Not long after he dies, Alice goes out riding her bike one evening. She does not return. Mary, Lorraine, and the others scramble to find her, but Alice comes home late on her own. She explains she fell into a ditch to avoid a pickup truck and that she has walked home.

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This section contains 603 words
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