Lovecraft Country Summary & Study Guide

Matt Ruff
This Study Guide consists of approximately 42 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Lovecraft Country.
This section contains 728 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Lovecraft Country Summary & Study Guide Description

Lovecraft Country 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 Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Ruff, matt. Lovecraft Country. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2016.

Lovecraft Country takes place in America in the year 1954. The story opens with Atticus Turner, a 22-year-old black man who served in the Korean War. After receiving a strange letter from his father Montrose, Atticus drives from Jacksonville, Florida, back to his home city of Chicago. He experiences much race-based harassment along the way. In Chicago, Atticus' father and Atticus’ uncle George Berry run a travel agency that caters to black people. Black travelers face many dangers due to racial oppression. Montrose is not in Chicago, so Atticus, George, and their friend Letitia travel to Ardham, Massachusetts, the town mentioned in Montrose’s letter. In Ardham, Atticus is held captive by an evil order of magic-wielding white people. They wish to use Atticus as a ritual sacrifice, as he is descended from the owner’s founder and a slave woman. One of the order’s members, Caleb Braithwhite, kills the other members and allows Atticus, George, Montrose, and Letitia to escape.

Back in Chicago, Letitia receives a sudden large inheritance. A mysterious white realtor tells her about a cheap but opulent house for sale. Letitia places a down payment on the house and moves in as the new landlady. However, she faces fierce hostility from the white neighbors. She also faces hostility from a malevolent spirit that haunts the house. However, Letitia refuses to be intimidated, and she stands up to her white neighbors and makes peace with the spirit. Later the, Hippolyta Berry—the wife of George—arrives at a strange astronomical observatory in Wisconsin. Hippolyta has been interested in astronomy since she was a girl and likes to visit observatories. She sneaks in at night and finds a strange machine that opens portals to distant worlds. She goes through a portal and finds a white woman, who is the lone survivor of an exploratory expedition. The woman is opposed to Hippolyta’s presence because Hippolyta is black. She forces Hippolyta to return to Earth.

Later, Caleb Braithwhite steals a special ledger from Montrose. The ledger contains a record of reparations payments owed to Montrose’s family due to the enslavement of one of Monstrose’s ancestors. Caleb says that he will give it back if Montrose steals a specific magic book from a local museum. Montrose acquiesces, and Caleb gives Montrose the ledger, as well as the specific amount of money recorded as debt in the ledger. Later, Letitia’s sister Ruby is fired from her job as a maid. She has been falsely accused of theft. She is unable to find another job. One evening, she is approached by Caleb Braithwhite, who flirts with her and gives her a magic serum that turns her into a white woman. Ruby is delighted by the freedom and safety granted by her whiteness, but the serum is only temporary. She agrees to be a spy for Caleb in exchange for a steady supply of the serum. Caleb begins plans to increase his magical powers, as well as his influence over other magical orders in the country.

Montrose later goes to Aken, Illinois, where a man named Henry Winthrop is said to live. Henry Winthrop is the son of Hiram Winthrop, a deceased rival of the Braithwhite family. Henry gives Montrose a magical tome that can be possibly be used to defeat Caleb. Meanwhile, a police captain named Lancaster—who has a tentative alliance with Caleb—places a curse on Horace Berry, the son of George and Hippolyta. The curse causes Horace to be followed by an evil doll. Caleb removes the curse from Horace and tells Montrose, George, and Hippolyta that they will have to help him defeat Lancaster. Later, Atticus, George, Letitia, Ruby, Hippolyta, and Montrose meet to discuss how to defeat Caleb. Caleb soon kidnaps Atticus and tries to give him as a peace offering to Lancaster. Atticus’ friends and family then rescue him, and Atticus places a spell on Caleb that robs him of his magic powers. In the novel’s epilogue, the novel’s protagonists pursue their personal ambitions with renewed vigor. They also think about the future. They hope that America and the world will be free some day of racial tensions, racial prejudices, and general racial oppression.

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