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News of the World Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 65 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of News of the World.
This section contains 676 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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News of the World Summary & Study Guide Description

News of the World 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 News of the World by Paulette Jiles.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Jiles, Paulette. News of the World. William Morrow, 2016.

This novel, told in the past tense, opens on Captain Kidd who, since the end of the Civil War, has been wandering from city to city in north Texas and giving professional readings of news stories that he collects from national and international newspapers. In the town of Wichita Falls, Texas during the winter of 1870, Captain Kidd agrees to transport Johanna Leonberger back to her family in south Texas, outside Castroville. Four years earlier, a tribe of native Indians called the Kiowa kidnapped Johanna and raised her. Thus, the white ten-year-old with blonde hair and blue eyes does not speak English and believes that she is Kiowa. Before they leave Wichita Falls, Captain Kidd uses the fifty-dollar Spanish coin the Leonbergers have paid him to buy a dark green excursion wagon. As they leave, a pale-haired man and two of his henchmen watch them.

Captain Kidd and Johanna arrive first in Spanish Fort. The hectic pace of the town overwhelms Johanna, who the Captain leaves with two friends while he gives a reading. After discovering that Johanna has run away, Captain Kidd and his friend, Simon Boudlin, track her to the Red River, where Johanna is sobbing and watching a group of Kiowa across the river. Captain Kidd drags her away and they continue on to Dallas.

In Dallas, Captain Kidd and Johanna stay with Mrs. Gannett, who runs a livery stable. Again, Captain Kidd leaves Johanna in the care of Mrs. Gannett while he goes into town to arrange for his reading that evening. During dinner, he tries to teach Johanna how to use a fork. After his reading, the pale-haired man from Wichita Falls appears again. His name is Almay and he offers to buy Johanna from Captain Kidd in the hopes of selling her into child prostitution. Captain Kidd and Johanna leave early that morning, although Almay and his henchmen catch up to them and start a gunfight. Outnumbered and running out of ammunition, Captain Kidd and Johanna load their guns with ten-cent coins and kill Almay.

Having taken care of Almay, Captain Kidd and Johanna start towards Durand. On their way, they are intercepted by a man with a black beard who demands a half-dollar from them. Captain Kidd pays him and they successfully reach Durand. Durand is a troublesome place for the two of them. A young woman yells at Johanna for bathing naked in the river, while an argument over Texan politics disrupts and shuts down Captain Kidd's reading. This time, the black-bearded man from before introduces himself to Captain Kidd as John Calley and apologizes for taking the Captain's money.

When Captain Kidd and Johanna enter Lampasas, four Army officials warn them about possible trouble with the Horrell brothers, who want to be famous and reported in the newspapers. The Captain does not sleep that night, and they hurry on towards Castroville. In Castroville, Captain Kidd and Johanna meet Anna and Wilhelm, Johanna's aunt and uncle. The Leonbergers are only happy to welcome Johanna into their home because they plan to work her to the bone. Reluctantly, the Captain leaves Johanna with them.

The next night, however, Captain Kidd rides back from San Antonio to Castroville. When he discovers that Johanna's aunt and uncle have whipped her, he takes Johanna with him. For three years, they travel together on the road, until the Captain's two daughters relocate to San Antonio. They join Captain Kidd's daughters there, and the Captain legally adopts Johanna.

Eventually, Johanna and Calley marry and move to Missouri, where she helps him on his cattle drives. The Comanche Indians kill Britt Johnson and his two friends in 1871. Simon and Doris have six children, while Horrells are eventually killed in “the Great Lampasas Square Shoot-Out” of 1877, for which they are finally get what they wanted: their names in the paper. The Captain, too, dies and is buried with his runner’s badge.

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