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Hark Summary & Study Guide

Sam Lipsyte
This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Hark.
This section contains 592 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Hark Summary & Study Guide Description

Hark 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 Hark by Sam Lipsyte.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Lipsyte, Sam. Hark. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2019.

The novel’s protagonist is Fraz Penzig, an under-employed, middle-aged man who lives in New York City. He is married and has two children. His relationship with his wife, Tovah, has been growing increasingly dysfunctional. After Fraz was laid off from his previous job, he became a follower of a self-help guru named Hark Morner. Hark preaches a self-help philosophy called mental archery, which Hark invented. Mental archery is designed to help people focus and achieve their goals but the novel presents it as essentially being hollow nonsense. Fraz and some of Hark’s other close supporters help Hark to schedule public talks and other events. One of Hark’s close supporters is Kate Rumpler, a wealthy heiress who provides all of the funding for Hark’s organization: The Institute for Mental Archery. Kate tries to live her life altruistically, and she believes that Hark may be able to effect real, positive change in the world.

Another of Hark’s supporters is Teal Baker-Cassini, a former accountant who went to jail for a few years after embezzling money from her immoral boss. Teal is now studying to be a social worker. She acts as Fraz and Tovah’s marriage counselor, but she is not very effective. Fraz attempts to become more involved in helping Hark and conversing with him. However, Hark begins to become irritated with Fraz. Hark reveals some of his own personal brusqueness. Fraz begins to become disillusioned with mental archery, as it has not helped Fraz improve his life, and he and Hark begin to have arguments. One day, a wealthy businessman named Nat Dersh—who is also a childhood friend of Fraz—begins trying to buy control of the Institute of Mental Archery from Hark. However, Hark refuses the offer, as he knows that Nat only sees it as a moneymaking venture.

However, as time progresses, Hark appears to become disillusioned with mental archery and with his own ability to effect positive change in the world. One day, during a public lecture, Hark has a breakdown and flees. He goes into hiding in the town of Pickering, New York. He stays with a woman named Meg Kenny, who is a devotee of mental archery. Fraz’s daughter Lisa falls into a coma after suffering a head injury, and Fraz desperately resorts to mental archery chants, hoping that they will help Lisa recover. Fraz contacts Hark, who asks Fraz and the other followers to meet Hark in Pickering. Fraz, Kate, and Teal do so. Nat Dersh arrives as well and continues to pressure hark into selling the Institute of Mental Archery. Hark refuses. Fraz receives word that Lisa has awoken from her coma. Suddenly, a mentally unstable man named Boyd Barron appears and kills Hark with a bow and arrow.

Kate believes that the mentally unstable assassin may have been sent by a secret anti-Harkist group that has threatened her in the past. Kate also believes that Nat Dersh may have sent the assassin. Nat Dersh buys Hark’s organization, and Fraz reluctantly agrees to work for Nat in order to secure financial stability for his family. Tovah temporarily leaves Fraz for Nat, but Fraz and Tovah eventually decide to attempt to repair their relationship. Unfortunately, Fraz dies one day when he drowns in the Hudson River. A little later, Hark appears to Kate in a ghostly vision and urges her to remember his teachings.

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This section contains 592 words
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