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The Manchurian Candidate Study Guide & Plot Summary

This Study Guide consists of approximately 56 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Manchurian Candidate.
This section contains 707 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Manchurian Candidate Study Guide

The Manchurian Candidate Summary & Study Guide Description

The Manchurian Candidate 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 Literary Precedents and a Free Quiz on The Manchurian Candidate by Richard Condon.

Plot Summary

During the Korean War, Sergeant Raymond Shaw and his patrol are ambushed and taken to a Chinese research facility. There, Shaw is brainwashed by Dr. Yen Lo, who installs a subconscious mental command that Shaw will obey any orders when he is told to play solitaire and then sees the queen of diamonds. Yen Lo gives a demonstration to an audience of Communist officials in which he has Shaw murder two men of his patrol. The other soldiers are fed a scenario in which Raymond Shaw saves their lives, and Shaw's commanding officer, Captain Ben Marco, recommends him for the Medal of Honor. On returning to the States, Raymond Shaw takes a job as an assistant to a newspaper columnist.

Raymond strives to keep his mother at a distance, as she seeks to use her son's heroism as a political boon for her husband, Senator Johnny Iselin. Raymond's mother controls Iselin completely, and brings him prominence by guiding her husband on an anti-Communist crusade. The Iselins are soon the most powerful and despised people in Washington, but Raymond's dark secret raises his stature, as well. When his Communist operators test Shaw's conditioning by ordering him to kill his boss, Raymond moves in to the position of political columnist. He primarily ignores his mother's and stepfather's maneuvers, but while in Europe with Mrs. Iselin, Raymond finds it necessary to rebuke their machinations. This brings Raymond further fame, but feeds in to Senator Iselin's notoriety, as well.

Meanwhile, Marco, now promoted to the rank of major, begins to recall the true events of Korea. Now, as Raymond Shaw's closest friend, Marco reveals his concerns while keeping the full scope of Shaw's involvement to himself. Together, the men decide that the events leading to Shaw's Medal of Honor must be investigated, but the plan fails when Raymond mentions the idea to his mother, who cannot afford to see her son dishonored. Marco is forced to accept a promotion to colonel in exchange for his silence. Fortunately, Marco meets Eugenie Rose Cheyney, a woman who soothes his fears and introduces him to an FBI investigator who can aid his cause. With the FBI, CIA and Army Intelligence now focused on finding the truth about Raymond Shaw, it soon becomes apparent that Shaw has been extensively brainwashed. They do not, however, discover the purpose of his conditioning or the mechanism of his control, until Marco observes Raymond jump in a lake after a bartender mentions both solitaire and this absurd behavior in a side conversation. Shaw is finally convinced that he may be in danger, but this alone would not distress him since he has nothing to lose.

When Raymond discovers that his long, lost love, Jocie Jordan, is returning home after the death of her husband, though, Shaw finally learns fear. At a costume party that will serve as Raymond and Jocie's reunion, Raymond's mother reveals herself to be a powerful Communist operative, and tells her son to play solitaire. Before she can tell him to kill Marco, another test of his conditioning, Mrs. Iselin is interrupted. Jocie arrives dressed as the queen of hearts. His conditioning fulfilled and his love returned, Raymond absconds with Jocie, and they are quickly married. Shortly after returning from their honeymoon, however, Shaw is instructed to murder Senator Jordan, a political rival of the Iselins and Jocie's father. What Raymond's mother does not anticipate, though, is that Jocie decides to visit her father on the very night he is to be executed. Jocie walks in on her husband murdering the senator, and Raymond kills her, as well. Raymond's mother is upset about this unexpected development, but nevertheless continues with her ultimate plot - netting Senator Iselin the presidency of the United States. She conspires to have him nominated as the party's vice presidential candidate, with the intention that Raymond will kill the presidential nominee at the convention and give Johnny Iselin the spotlight. Shaw, distraught at his wife's death and suspecting his own role in the murders, calls Ben Marco on his way to the convention hall. Marco has Raymond play solitaire, and gives him new instructions to kill Senator and Mrs. Iselin. After this is accomplished, Marco tells his friend to commit suicide, sparing him further torment.

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This section contains 707 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Manchurian Candidate Study Guide
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The Manchurian Candidate from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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