English Creek Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 63 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of English Creek.
This section contains 510 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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English Creek Summary & Study Guide Description

English Creek 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 English Creek by Ivan Doig.

English Creek by Ivan Doig is the coming of age story of Jick McCaskill. Set just after the Great Depression in rural Northern Montana, the story begins with Jick's brother Alec making a shattering break from the family which leaves Jick examining his own identity as the summer races him toward his fifteenth birthday. Left to fill the space his brother has left, while also struggling to understand his own place, Jick examines each event of the summer with the lyrical intensity of a boy who sees childhood closing behind him.

Jick's father, Mac McCaskill, is the ranger in the Two Medicine National Forest. The year is 1939, and the Depression, coupled with drought and grasshoppers, have driven off families who once populated the ranches bordering the National Forest. Wendell Williams, who survived the Depression on a rich inheritance, has bought up much of the mortgaged and abandoned property and consolidated it into his Double W Ranch where Jick's older brother Alec has been working as a hand for the past two summers. When Alec drops in to announce his plans to forgo college and instead marry the town beauty and pursue a life of ranching, Jick and his parents are devastated. Alec's gift for math was, his parents believed , his ticket out of the hard rural life of their community and the entire family had set aside savings to send Alec to college in Billings come the fall.

Jick joins his father for the annual count of sheep on the leased forest lands, but the tradition is filled by an awareness of Alec's absence from the routine. A chance encounter with Stanley Meixell, whom Jick only vaguely remembers to be a family friend, results in Mac's curious decision to send Jick off with the man. In their brief time together, Jick realizes Stanley is an alcoholic but his curiosity about the man's long absence from their lives and Mac's curious tension in seeing Stanley hang as an unanswered question in Jick's mind as the summer progresses.

One August afternoon, when a quick moving thunderstorm drives Jick to seek refuge in the Double W bunk house, the two brothers meet up once again and it soon becomes clear to Jick that Alec has been demoted from ranch hand to scatter raker for haying season. In addition, the engagement to Leona appears to have fallen by the wayside since Leona decided to return to school at the end of the summer. Alec swears Jick to secrecy and Jick agrees out of fraternal loyalty.

Jick is still struggling to keep his secret when a fire breaks out in the Two Medicine Forest. Sure that Alec would help his father battle the blaze, Jick tries to convince Alec to return in a desperate phone call, but is met with Alec's firm refusal. When Jick's mother brings Stanley Meixell in to help, Jick joins Stanley and as the Two Medicine National Forest burns, Jick learns the secret hidden behind the tension which has visibly hung between his father and Stanley Meixell.

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This section contains 510 words
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