Calico Bush Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 21 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Calico Bush.
This section contains 820 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Calico Bush Summary & Study Guide Description

Calico Bush 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 Calico Bush by Rachel Field.

Calico Bush is a novel by author Rachel Field. This novel features a young French girl abandoned in the New World in the mid-seventeen hundreds who finds herself bound-out to a family who has recently bought a farm in the relatively wild lands of coastal Massachusetts. Marguerite is an outcast in this family, ridiculed for her French ancestry in a time when the French are considered as dangerous an enemy as the Indians. However, Marguerite proves herself to be an asset to the family on multiple occasions when she saves the children from harm, rescues the family animals, and keeps the Indians from attacking their house. Calico Bush is a charming novel of the birth of a country, showing the struggles of the early settlers through the eyes of a true, if somewhat unwilling, immigrant.

Marguerite Ledoux came to America with an uncle and her grandmother with the intention of settling in Quebec. However, illness came to the ship within sight of land and Marguerite's uncle died. The captain put Marguerite and her grandmother ashore in a coastal town of the new colonies, where the grandmother became ill and soon died. Marguerite was then given to a family as a bound-out girl, a situation in which Marguerite would be cared of until the age of eighteen in exchange for her services. Now Marguerite is on a boat traveling to the family's new farm along the sea coast of Massachusetts.

On the trip, Marguerite's main chore is to care for the five small children belonging to her new family. Keeping the children entertained can be a chore on such a small vessel. Then one night there is a terrible storm and Marguerite finds herself desperately holding on to a sheep through the night to keep it from washing overboard. A short time later, the family lands in a small town where they are able to restock some of the supplies lost in the storm. During this lay over, Marguerite and the children find a stray dog that the family adopts and calls Pumpkin.

When the family comes to their new farm, they discover that the Indians have burned down the beautiful house they expected to find there. The neighbors on the small islands throughout the channel warn the family not to settle on this piece of land. The neighbors claim being there will simply encourage more attacks by the Indians because these Indians apparently think this section of land is a holy site of some sort. Despite these warnings, the family continues with their plans to settle the land.

Marguerite meets the elderly neighbor, Aunt Hepsa, and learns a great deal about herbs and spices from her. In Aunt Hepsa, Marguerite finds a motherly figure she can admire. At the same time, Marguerite finds herself constantly busy helping with the family. At one point, Marguerite has to paddle a boat into the channel to direct the family cows in the right direction. As time passes, the men raise a small house. When it is time to put the roof on the house, the family throws a big party. All the neighbors come and there is more food than Marguerite has seen in a long time.

Toward the end of the roof raising party, Marguerite follows the dog into the woods and discovers a bear eating the last of the butter. Marguerite bravely throws water in the bear's face to keep it from attacking the children. A short time later, one of the boys is in the way when a hammer falls from the roof. Marguerite helps Aunt Hepsa stitch up the injury and care for the boy.

Winter sets in and it is a difficult time. The family takes to sleeping around the fireplace in order to keep warm at night. One night, the family wakes to the baby's screams. The baby has crawled too close and caught her shawl on fire. Marguerite and the eldest boy rush to Aunt Hepsa's over the frozen channel for help, but the burns are too devastating. The baby dies.

When spring arrives, the family makes syrup from the sap of the maple tree. The family is low on supplies, so when a ship comes looking for extra men, the children's uncle jumps at the chance. While he is gone, however, the father crushes his leg while attempting to clear the fields alone. While he is sick, the Indians come to the little farm. Marguerite shows them they mean no harm by first offering them food and later by making a maypole and showing them how to use it. Marguerite's scheme is successful and the Indians leave them in peace.

When the ship returns a short time later, the family offers to give Marguerite her freedom and allow her to sail on the ship to French Quebec. Marguerite is happy about the offer, but realizes she would rather remain with her new family.

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