Study Guide

Geek Love Summary & Study Guide

Katherine Dunn
This Study Guide consists of approximately 40 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Geek Love.
This section contains 666 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Geek Love Summary & Study Guide Description

Geek Love 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 Geek Love by Katherine Dunn.

The novel follows through the life of Olympia Binewski, a.k.a Hopalong McGurk, from her childhood to her death. Olympia tells the story of her family, the Binewskis, and their unique lifestyle as owners of Binewski's Fabulon, a traveling circus specializing in freaks.

The book follows Olympia's voice (often referred to as "Oly" in the book), starting with her childhood as she travels with her family in a van as a part of the Binewski Fabulon. The story opens as her Papa (a.k.a. "Aloysius Binewski" or "Al") tells the story of how he met their mother (a.k.a. "Crystal Lil" or "Lillian Hinchcliff Binewksi" or "Lily"). This is no ordinary family, however, as it is quickly established that the children are all "freakish" in nature. Arturo or Aqua Man is the oldest and has flippers for arms and legs. The twins Electra and Iphigenia are Siamese twins. Olympia is an albino dwarf and Fortunato (a.k.a. "Chick") has telekinetic abilities. The parents worked very hard to create their children as freaks, as being a "norm" or normal individual is looked down upon in this family.

Flipping between childhood stories and the present-day activities, the reader follows Oly through her entire life. The reader watches as the children grow up, leaning less on their parents and more on the oldest son, Arturo, who they call "Arty." Arty becomes the leader of the Binewski clan, eventually leading the family from the Fabulon circus environment and more towards the cult following that he establishes through his act as Aqua Boy. Arty's controlling need to manipulate every aspect of his siblings' lives causes them immense pain throughout their lives.

Arty creates a cult following called Arturism. Ultimately, Arturism convinces "normal" individuals (those born without freakish qualities) to chop off their limbs in an effort to "free" themselves from the restrictions of being a normal functioning member of society. As Arty grows in power through Artursim, he begins to manipulate the lives of everyone in his family. He takes over the Fabulon. Oly becomes impregnated with Arty's child after she has Chick move Arty's sperm out of his body and into hers. Arty finally makes Oly send their daughter Miranda to a convent.

Chick has a very sensitive nature. After the twins and their baby die in a traumatic way, Chick realizes that all of the pain he feels is due to Arty. He consequently becomes so enraged he creates a massive firestorm, wholly consuming the entire Fabulon, saving only Oly and his mother Crystal Lil.

Although the Fabulon camp dies, the concepts of Arturism live on, as we learn when the adult Oly forces a friendship with a woman called Miss Lick. Miss Lick is a companion of Miranda. Miranda has also been born with a freakish quality -a small, curled tail. Miranda uses her tail to her advantage by making extra money at the Glass House, which is a strip club specializing in individuals with freakish qualities.

Miss Lick approaches Miranda after one of her performances, giving her the opportunity to "fix" herself and take off the tail, which Miss Lick will pay for. Miss Lick, as Oly reveals, is actually a devoted follower of the Arturism method of thinking and frequently will find girls whose lives seem to be predictably useless and disfigures them so that they will reach their full potential.

After the Fabulon camp is destroyed, Oly goes on to find a job reading stories on the radio, and lives on a house on Kearney Street. She brings Miranda and Crystal Lil to the same house, although neither knows that she lives with them. Miranda does not know her mother, and Crystal Lil is now blind, deaf and mentally unstable.

Oly ultimately kills Miss Lick and herself in an effort to keep Miranda the way she is. Before the murder-suicide, Oly leaves Miranda a letter and a trunk filled with notes and letters, explaining the entire Binewski Fabulon past.

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