Swamplandia! Summary & Study Guide

Karen Russell
This Study Guide consists of approximately 68 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Swamplandia!.
This section contains 469 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Swamplandia! Summary & Study Guide Description

Swamplandia! 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 Swamplandia! by Karen Russell.

Set against a backdrop of unbelievable and sometimes ludicrous situations, “Swamplandia!” by Karen Russell demonstrates how quickly and unexpectedly life can spin out of control. The young narrator Ava Bigtree warns the reader from the beginning that her family was headed for a fall. She doesn’t, however, tell her readers how close the family came to a disaster before they reconnected with each other.

The way the individual members of the family dealt with the death of Hilola Bigtree from ovarian cancer was the starting point from which the other problems faced by the family members grew. Sam “Chief” Bigtree threw himself into his work and tried to pretend the problems around him didn’t exist. The problems he ignored included Ossie’s new obsession with talking to ghosts and the amount of debt the family owed. He concentrated only on finding a way to make his family’s amusement park Swamplandia! lucrative.

Meanwhile, Ossie met the ghost of a 17-year-old dredgeman who died on a dredge that mysteriously appeared near the family’s island. She spent a good deal of time with this “boyfriend” and accepted his suggestion that they elope. Ava, Ossie’s younger sister, found the note from her sister telling her about her plans to elope with the ghost. At that point, Ava and the Bird Man, a strange man who had come to the island uninvited to take care of buzzards, were alone on the island. The Chief had gone on an extended trip to the mainland to meet with investors. Kiwi had taken a job on the mainland to help pay his family’s bills.

The Bird Man convinced Ava to go with him to the underworld where Ava believed Ossie had gone to elope with Louis. During their trip Ava noticed the once friendly Bird Man began to act stranger and stranger. After they finally arrived on the island Ava believed was the underworld the Bird Man raped her. Ava finally ran away from the man but realized she had perhaps put herself into more danger because she had no water and did not know where she was.

Through a stroke of luck, Kiwi had been allowed to register in flight school at the amusement park where he was working. He happened to spot Ossie waving for help while he was on a test flight with his instructor. Soon after some hunters who had heard Ava screaming when she was with the Bird Man alerted park services that they believed a girl was in trouble. A ranger with park services found Ava and reunited her with her family. Once they were together, the family members realized that they would have to give up their island home and move to the mainland in order to make a living.

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This section contains 469 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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