Defending Jacob Summary & Study Guide

William Landay
This Study Guide consists of approximately 59 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Defending Jacob.
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Defending Jacob Summary & Study Guide Description

Defending Jacob 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 Defending Jacob by William Landay.

The possibility of a “murder gene,” a parent’s responsibility for his children’s actions and the influence parents really have over the way children behave are all themes that are explored in the novel “Defending Jacob” by William Landay. The world of First District Attorney Andrew Barber is turned on its head when his son, Jacob, is accused of murdering a fellow classmate. For Barber, the accusation is not only a possible death sentence for his son but it also opens up an investigation into his family’s violent background, information he hoped he had buried. A strange twist at the end of the novel raises the question if there is ever a time when murder is justifiable.

Other children were always getting hurt around Jacob, his mother, Laurie, tells psychiatrist Elizabeth Vogel as they prepare for a trial in which Jacob is accused of fatally stabbing a classmate. Although First Assistant District Attorney Andrew Barber is certain his son is innocent, he is obviously uncomfortable when lawyers bring the violent nature of three generations of his family before him into the trial. Barber must face his father, whom he hasn’t seen since he was a small child, to ask for a DNA sample. In a twisted way of “helping” the grandson he’d never met, Barber’s father arranges a confession to be written by a neighborhood pedophile who had briefly been a suspect in the case. The confession clears Jacob’s name in court, but suspicion seems to linger, especially in the mind of his mother.

In a bizarre twist at the end of the story, a girl whom Jacob had been dating disappears from the Jamaican resort where the Barber family was vacationing to escape the stress of the trial. Hope Connor’s body washes up on shore about seven weeks later. While Barber insists her death was ruled a drowning, a botched investigation hints there might have been more to the story. Some say there is evidence that Hope’s windpipe was crushed before she ever went into the water. Laurie, sure that her son was responsible for Hope’s death, drives the family’s minivan into a concrete abutment, killing Jacob. The book raises more questions than it answers. Did Jacob really kill Ben? Was Laurie right in killing Jacob? Should she be indicted for murder?

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This section contains 397 words
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