Introduction & Overview of The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks

This Study Guide consists of approximately 50 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Sweet Hereafter.
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The Sweet Hereafter Summary & Study Guide Description

The Sweet Hereafter 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 Further Reading and a Free Quiz on The Sweet Hereafter by Russell Banks.

Russell Banks's sixth novel, The Sweet Hereafter tells the tragic story of a school bus accident, revealing how it impacts the lives of individuals as well as the community as a whole. In The Reading List, Contemporary Fiction, Banks is quoted as saying, "I wanted to write a novel in which the community was the hero, rather than a single individual." Although the story is told from the perspectives of four individual narrators, the importance of the community emerges as a strong unifying element.

The Sweet Hereafter has been embraced by critics and readers alike for its unique narrative structure. Banks's intention in writing the novel this way was to avoid what he considers the artifice of omniscient narration and the somewhat preachy tone that often accompanies it. Instead, Banks chose to tell the story four times, each time from a different perspective that is unique, realistic, and limited. The result is a more intimate tone that allows the reader to understand how a single incident can create such different feelings in different individuals. The narration reveals varied threads of guilt, blame, and recovery, and places them in the larger fabric of a community's reaction to a tragedy.

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This section contains 198 words
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The Sweet Hereafter from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.