Paperboy Summary & Study Guide

Vince Vawter
This Study Guide consists of approximately 29 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Paperboy.
This section contains 986 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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Paperboy Summary & Study Guide Description

Paperboy 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 Paperboy by Vince Vawter.

Paperboy is an award winning novel by Vince Vawter. In this book, a young boy with a stutter takes over his friend Rat’s paper route while Rat is visiting his grandparents. The young boy struggles with his stutter to such a degree that he is frightened for Friday, collection day, to come around. While working this route and collecting the money, the boy meets a beautiful, but troubled woman. She is a scholar who appears to be the only stranger to truly understand the boy’s speech trouble. Paperboy is a novel that not only explores the unique struggles of someone with a speech impediment, but it is a coming of age novel that takes the main character from a boy afraid of his own malfunctioning speech to a boy who helps rescue his housekeeper from a violent man intent on killing her.

The narrator is an eleven year old boy called Little Man with a profound stutter. He is highly intelligent. In fact, he has been promoted a grade above his peers. However, his speech impediment has caused him to become quiet and withdrawn in class.

Little Man's friend, Rat, has a paper route. Little Man agrees to take over the paper route for the month of July, when Rat goes to visit his grandparents on their farm. Little Man is excited to throw the paper each day, but he is nervous about collecting the money each Friday evening. This will require him to speak to strangers who are not aware of his stutter. Little Man always becomes nervous in these situations, which only increases his stutter.

On the first day, Little Man is practicing difficult words that begin with R and B as he throws each paper. When he tries the word ‘pitch', the woman at the house where he is throwing the paper thinks he has said a bad word. Little Man's stutter only grows more profound as he attempts to explain what he was really doing. Since he's unable to provide a verbal explanation, he writes a note to the woman and leaves it at her house later that night.

On Friday Miss Nellie Avent (Mam), the Vollmer family's maid, offers to go with Little Man on his collection rounds. Little Man refuses, however, aware that this is his responsibility and he must do it alone. Most of the houses leave the paper money clipped to the door or mailbox for Little Man. However, he is forced to ask for the money and say the difficult N sound in "ninety-five cents" when he stops at one particular house.

That first night, Little Man also meets Mr. Spiro. Mr. Spiro helps him when he accidentally causes himself to faint while trying to say the difficult "V" sound in his real name. Mr. Spiro speaks to Little Man like he is a normal person, waiting patiently for him to spit out his words instead of rushing him like most strangers do. Mr. Spiro also gives Little Man a quarter of a dollar bill as a tip with the word "Student" written carefully on it. Mr. Spiro promises Little Man another piece of the bill each week for the remainder of the month.

Early in his job as the paperboy, Little Man gave a local junk man his knife to be sharpened. The junk man, who is named Ara T, refuses to give the knife back. Little Man finally tells Mam about the missing knife. Mam disappears for several days afterward and returns with a bruised and battered face. Mam refuses to tell Little Man what happened, but he suspects Ara T is responsible. Little Man sets about trying to find his knife. He is almost caught searching through Ara T’s hideaway.

Little Man continues to meet with Mr. Spiro each week. At each meeting, Mr. Spiro answers Little Man's questions honestly and intelligently while forcing the narrator to orally ask his questions. Once Mr. Spiro helps Little Man recite a poem he wrote by saying it with him. Mr. Spiro also gives Little Man two more pieces of the dollar bill. These say "Servant" and "Seller."

Near the end of the month, Little Man discovers that his bedroom has been broken into after he accidentally left a ladder outside his window. Mam becomes angry and instructs Little Man to go to Rat’s house while she takes care of something. Little Man disobeys Mam and follows her to Ara T’s hideaway. From there, they catch a bus and go to a section of town where there are bars on every corner. When Mam finds Ara T’s cart, she instructs Little Man to hide inside. Little Man becomes overwhelmed by the smell, however, and follows Mam into the bar. When he enters, Little Man finds Mam pinned to the wall by an intoxicated and enraged Ara T. Little Man distracts Ara T by throwing a beer bottle at his head. Mam escapes Ara T’s clutches and grabs Little Man's knife from Ara T’s coat pocket, stabbing him in the arm. A moment later, Big Sack, the man who mows the Vollmer’s lawn, comes into the bar and assures Mam and Little Man that he will take care of things.

Mr. Spiro leaves on a trip. However, before he goes, he gives Little Man the last piece of the dollar bill, which says "Seeker." Little Man decides he has until Mr. Spiro returns to figure out what it all means. When Little Man returns to school a few weeks later, he no longer worries about what people think of his stutter. He stands in class and speaks his name, Victor Vollmer, and recites his favorite things without noticing the titters of the students around him. His job as the paperboy has taught Victor that there are more important things than worrying over a little embarrassment.

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This section contains 986 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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