Child of God Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 30 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Child of God.
This section contains 936 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Child of God Summary & Study Guide Description

Child of God 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 Child of God by Cormac McCarthy.

Child of God is a novel by Cormac McCarthy, author of All the Pretty Horses. The book is loosely based off of real life events. Child of God follows the story of Lester Ballard, an outsider. Lester lives in Sevier County, which is located in Eastern Tennessee. The novel follows Lester's obsession with pedophilia as well as his descent into necrophilia and murder.

The book begins on Lester's family's property. There is an auction being held to sell off his land. Lester breaks into the scene. He is very angry that the auction has started. He threatens to shoot the auctioneer. Before he can carry out his threats, he is tackled to the ground by the sheriff. Lester has always been an outsider. He stays in his shabby home, alone. No one comes to visit him. The only time he interacts with others is to terrorize other townspeople and make them feel annoyed.

Lester does have a few friends that he visits around town. He is friends with the dumpkeeper and attempts to visit him whenever he can. Lester has other motives though. He really wants to see the dumpkeeper because he is obsessed with his daughters. Lester is obsessed with the young girls, mostly because they are very sexual and developing very fast. Lester goes to their house so that he can tease the girls and talk to them.

One day, as Lester is wandering along Frog Mountain, he finds a woman sleeping on the ground. Lester seems to be genuinely concerned for the woman. She looks as if she is freezing. He tries to wake her, but is at first unsuccessful. He moves closer to touch her and she wakes up. The woman then starts to scream at Lester. She is very disoriented and frightened. Lester becomes angry with her because he is trying to be nice, but she begins throwing things at him. Lester then grabs at her, ripping off her nightgown. He leaves her by herself on the mountain.

A few days later, Lester is contacted by a neighbor who warns him that the sheriff will be coming by to arrest him. He tells Lester that he is going to be charged for raping the woman from the mountain. Sure enough, the sheriff comes to collect Lester. He takes Lester to the jail house and begins the process of booking him. Lester is confused. He did not rape the women. Suddenly the woman comes down the corridor. She begins yelling and cursing at Lester. He yells at her too, calling her old. The woman then attacks Lester. The sheriff pulls the woman off of Lester and locks him up in a jail cell. Lester spends a few days in jail, but is then released. The sheriff asks Lester if he is going to commit any more crimes. Lester says he does not know what the sheriff is talking about.

Lester continues to go wandering around the mountain. One day, he sees a car running on the mountain. Lester decides to investigate. What he finds is very shocking. It is a dead couple in the car. Before they died they were having sex. Lester pulls the man off of the woman. He pushes the man from the car and climb on top of the woman. He begins having sex with her. After Lester finishes, he pulls the woman out of the car. He decides to bring her to his home. Once he is there, Lester puts the dead girl on his bed and has sex with her again. To preserve the body, he then brings it outside to the barn. The next day, Lester goes into town. He stops at a shop and buys the girl special red underwear.

When Lester returns home, he begins to pose the girl. He sleeps with her again. That night after he puts the girl back in the barn, Lester smells smoke. His house has started to burn down. Lester gathers some things and leaves.

Lester then goes to another friend's house. His friend is not home, but his daughter is. Lester attempts to talk to her. He asks her if he can see her breasts. She refuses him. Lester does not seem angry but he then leaves. He goes outside to retrieve his rifle. Lester then shoots the girl from outside. He goes inside to take her body. While he is dragging the lifeless corpse out, he sets the house on fire.

For the rest of the book, Lester continues to stalk the mountainside looking for victims. He moves into a cave in the mountain. He also begins stealing food from a local farmer named Greer. Lester also tries to kill Greer. It is because of this that Lester ends up in jail. The sheriff and other townspeople finally begin to suspect that Lester has killed the women. When Lester wakes up one morning in his cell, he is accosted by a mob of angry men. They demand that Lester show them where the bodies are. Lester agrees and takes the men to the caves. While he is leading them through small holes and spaces, he manages to loose them. Lester hides in a cave for about three weeks. He survives off of rats and creek water. After that time, he finds his way out of the cave and checks himself into a metal health hospital.

Lester is never charged with the crimes he committed. He lives the rest of his life in a mental hospital. Some time later, the townspeople finally find the bodies of the missing girls in a cave.

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This section contains 936 words
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