Bless the Beasts and Children Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 36 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Bless the Beasts and Children.
This section contains 459 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Bless the Beasts and Children Summary & Study Guide Description

Bless the Beasts and Children 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 Bless the Beasts and Children by Glendon Swarthout.

Bless the Beasts and Children by Glendon Swarthout is a coming of age story set in the mid-twentieth century. It portrays a classic quest as a group of six outcast boys from a summer camp go on a journey to rescue a herd of buffalo from being slaughtered.

The story begins with John Cotton, the leader of the group, awaking from a nightmare to discover that one of his friends has gone missing. Lally 2, the youngest of the group, has disappeared. Cotton gathers the rest of the boys, Lally 1 (Lally 2's older brother), Teft, Goodenow and Shecker and goes after Lally 2. When they catch up with him, they learn that Lally 2 has decided to go to free some buffalo before they are slaughtered. The boys had witnessed the part of the culling of the buffalo herd that day, and the experience had traumatized them.

This group of boys are known collectively and derisively as the Bedwetters. They are considered outcasts by the rest of the camp at which they are spending their summer. They have bonded together, however, and all decide to go together to help the buffalo. They sneak out of camp to the nearest town and steal a truck to drive to the buffalo preserve which is two hours away.

On their journey, they have to deal with a pair of youths who threaten to turn them over to the police. Teft drives them off by shooting the tire of their car. Before they reach their destination, the truck runs out of gas, and the boys have to walk the last mile to the preserve, having lost all hope of getting back to camp undetected.

In flashbacks, the reader learns about the broken homes and childhood traumas that have shaped all six of the boys in their formative years. Cotton's mother moves from relationship to relationship without providing her son with a stable home environment. Teft is burdened by the high expectations of his family. Shecker is the son of a famous comedian and habitual gambler who uses his own son as bait for bets. The Lally brothers have been brought up by household staff while their parents have been largely absent.

When they reach the camp, they realize that releasing the buffalo is a tall order, but under Cotton's leadership, they manage to release the massive animals from their pen. Taking another truck, they drive the herd to the boundary fence of the preserve, but they have taken so long to do it that the rangers at the preserve are coming after them. In desperation, Cotton drives the truck through the fence, freeing the buffalo, but sacrificing himself in the process as he drives the truck over the cliff beyond the fence.

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This section contains 459 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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