Gwendy's Button Box Summary & Study Guide

Richard Chizmar and Stephen King
This Study Guide consists of approximately 43 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Gwendy's Button Box.
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Gwendy's Button Box Summary & Study Guide Description

Gwendy's Button Box 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 Gwendy's Button Box by Richard Chizmar and Stephen King.

NOTE: The following version of the novella was used to create this study guide: King, Stephen and Chizmar, Richard. Gwendy’s Button Box. Cemetery Dance Publications, May 16, 2017.

In Gwendy’s Button Box by authors Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, a button box is used to teach the lesson that any object can be used for good or evil depending on the intent behind the actions. Gwendy Peterson also learns that there are no objects that possess power over the intentions or actions of people when she is put in charge of a button box by Richard Farris, a strange man whom she meets in the park. Gwendy believes the box has impacted her life in a negative way and that she would have been better off if Farris had never given it to her. He helps her to see that the negative happenings she credits to the box would have happened anyway just because there are people in the world with bad intentions.

Gwendy is 12 years old and running the Suicide Stars to lose weight because her classmates have been bullying her, when she first meets Farris in the park. He calls to her and tells her that she has caught his attention because she is taking an active role in bettering herself. When he shows her the button box, she is drawn to it immediately. Farris describes how one lever dispenses chocolate treats to curb her appetite while another lever dispenses Morgan Silver Dollars, a reward for keeping the box. Even though he does not tell her exactly what the rows of buttons on the box do, he insinuates that they each will do great harm if pushed. Some of the buttons correspond to the major continents while a black one represents everything and a red one will do whatever Gwendy imagines.

Gwendy’s life improves in the first years after she takes possession of the button box. She enjoys the chocolate treats and they do seem to curb her appetite, just like Farris said they would. She begins to lose weight and soon the boys are eyeing her because she is attractive instead of making fun of her weight. As a bonus, Gwendy’s parents, who seemed to have drifted apart, not only stop drinking entirely, but also appear to fall back in love with each other.

Gwendy gets her first scare from the box when she dreams a boy found it and pushed the black button before she had a chance to stop him. She is next harassed by Frankie Stone, a boy who once called her names and she imagines twisting his left arm until is breaks. A couple of weeks later Frankie has a car wreck and one of his injuries was a broken left arm. Her curiosity gets the best of her and Gwendy tries out the red button. She finds a place in South America that is said to be sparsely populated and thinks of that place when she pushes the button. She is devastated when she wakes the next morning to discover that is the site of the Jim Jones mass suicide.

Later, Gwendy’s best friend, Olive, kills herself. Gwendy blames herself for the death because she was not as close to her friend as she had been at one time. She uses the box to destroy the Suicide Stairs, from which Olive had jumped. Gwendy’s grief is relieved only when she meets Harry, with whom she quickly develops a relationship. Gwendy has several instances where she believes the box is acting as if it is jealous of her relationship with Harry. Harry is killed by Frankie when Frankie hits him in the head with the button box during a fight.

The novel advances forward about four years to the time when Gwendy graduates college. She sees Farris’s hat on the desk in her apartment and knows he has come to pay her a visit. Farris congratulates Gwendy on being such a good keeper of the box and tells her that she did a good deal of good by not using it any more than she did. He explains to her that the bad things she attributed to the box were caused by people with bad intentions. She is both happy and disappointed when he takes the box to give it to a new caretaker.

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