This section contains 3,372 words
(approx. 9 pages at 400 words per page)
Tenth of December: Stories Summary & Study Guide Description
Tenth of December: Stories 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 Topics for Discussion on Tenth of December: Stories by George Saunders.
Alison Pope, appears in Victory Lap
Alison Pope is the damsel in distress character in the story "Victory Lap." She is a fifteen year old who dreams of finding her prince charming in a world filled with ordinary men. To her, the world is filled with love and goodness and beautiful people who will never be anything but kind to her. This view of the world is shattered when a man pretending to be a meter reader tries to abduct her from her home.
Alison's salvation comes from an unexpected source. She remembers the way that she and Kyle Boot had been friends when they were younger. She now considers him to be a wimp and a geek. Her opinion of Kyle does not fit her ideal of her expected prince charming. After he saves her from her attackers, she has recurring nightmares where Kyle actually kills her abductor with the rock instead of just injuring him.
Kyle Boot, appears in Victory Lap
Kyle Boot is the hero in the story "Victory Lap." He is Alison Pope's next-door neighbor. He watches as a man pretending to be a meter reader tries to abduct Alison. Although he has been taught by his parents not to interfere in other people's business, Kyle fights past this deeply imbedded belief to save Alison. He is caught in a moral dilemma as he tries to decide if he should help Alison or if he should follow the instructions that have been drilled into him all of his life.
Kyle tries to follow his parents' intricate instructions on a day to day basis. His parents are very strict with him. He is afraid that if he doesn't follow their wishes, they will make him quit the track team, a sport that he enjoys. Alison describes Kyle as a skeleton with a mullet. She believes that he is a wimp and a geek.
Meter Reader, appears in Victory Lap
The man who intends to kidnap Alison dresses as a meter reader so that he can knock on her door without people becoming suspicious. He had planned out the abduction in advance, after he had seen Alison in her yard. He is a parishioner of the Russian Church across the road from Alison's house. Although he had the kidnapping planned out, he doesn't plan on Kyle and his geode. He is angry with himself and believes himself to be a failure when he realizes that it is a child who has foiled his plans.
Dad, appears in Sticks
Dad is the focus of the story "Sticks." He is a miserly man whose one "concession to glee" is to dress up a metal cross on holidays. In all other ways, he is stingy and unkind to his children. Toward the end of his life, the dad tries to use the pole as a way to apologize to his children for the way that he has acted and treated them for all of their lives. After his death, the pole is thrown away.
Marie, appears in Puppy
Marie is the mom of Josh and Abbie in the story "Puppy." She was abused in her childhood and is doing everything possible to see to it that her children do not suffer the way she did. She encourages laughter, even when the children are laughing at things they have done that could have hurt or damaged something. She buys expensive and unnecessary pets on the credit card. When she enters Callie's house and sees Bo in the backyard in a restraint, meant to keep him from getting hurt by running into traffic, she immediately assumes the boy is being abused. Because of this, Marie refuses to buy the puppy the family is trying to sell, not only for the money, but also because they cannot afford it. Callie knows the puppy will have to be killed if they cannot sell it or give it away. Marie's behavior is hypocritical as she judges a situation that she knows nothing about, then adds to the already difficult situation by refusing to take the puppy, even though her children want the dog.
Callie, appears in Puppy
Callie is Bo's mother. She is pleased with herself because she has found a way for Bo to be outside, which is where he wants to be, without taking the chance that he will run away, cross the interstate highway near their house and get killed. She believes the restraint that she has put her son in is the same as the fence that surrounded her house when she was a child. She hopes to be able to give their puppy away so that her husband will not have to kill it as he did the kittens. She is distraught because Marie and her family don't take the puppy. She takes it into a cornfield and abandons it so that her husband will not have to do it. She covers her actions by taking a twenty-dollar bill out of her savings and pretending the people bought the puppy.
Josh, appears in Puppy
Josh is Marie's son. He sees the boy in the restraint in the backyard and helps his mother discourage Abbie from getting the puppy. Although his mother sees Josh's antics as goodhearted fun, Josh is disrespectful to his mother, goosing her while she is brushing her teeth and hitting her so that he knocks off her glasses when she tries to help him with a game.
Abbie, appears in Puppy
Abbie is Marie's daughter. She is the reason that the family is going to look for a puppy. Josh had made a comment about something their dog had done when he was a puppy. Because she could not remember this time, Abbie cried, encouraging her mother to get her a puppy of her own. When the family leaves Callie's house without the puppy, Abbie cries.
Bo, appears in Puppy
Bo is Callie's son. He has some sort of mental or emotional problem that causes him to be difficult to control. The medicine that he has been prescribed has unfavorable side effects so he and his mother don't like for him to take it. He is unhappy being in the house, but when allowed to go outside, will run into the nearby interstate highway. He happily plays within the bounds of the restraint that his mother has fixed for him, even blows her a kiss when he sees her checking on him.
Abnesti , appears in Escape from Spiderhead
Abnesti is one of the main characters in the story "Escape from Spiderhead." He appears to be the man in charge of experimentation at some sort of alternative center for inmates. He is the one who gives Jeff orders and runs the experiments. Abnesti is very excited about the possibilities of a new drug with which he is experimenting. He believes that the drug will help him be able to stop wars as well as making ideal people fall in love with one another. After he has pushed Jeff to the edge by trying to force him to administer Darkenfloxx to Rachel, Abnesti leaves his remote control where Jeff can have access to it. It is because of Abnesti's carelessness that Jeff is able to give himself a lethal dose of Darkenfloxx.
Jeff, appears in Escape from Spiderhead
Jeff is the main character in the story "Escape from Spiderhead." He is being held in some sort of an alternative jail which also serves as a scientific testing center. During his imprisonment, Jeff is used as a subject in which he is given different experimental drugs. In one of the experiments, Abnesti tries to make him agree to give a test subject a drug that he has learned will cause suicidal behavior. He is in jail for killing a boy during a fight in his teen years. He has been through counseling and truly does not want to kill again. As his supervisors try to find a way to make Jeff agree to administer the chemical, Jeff finds Abnesti's remote control and gives himself a fatal dose of the drug. By killing himself, Jeff assures that he will never kill again. Just before he dies, Jeff is saddened only by the affect his death will have on his mother.
Heather, appears in Escape from Spiderhead
Heather is the girl in "Escape from Spiderhead" who bludgeons herself to death with her chair after she is given a dose of Darkenfloxx. Heather is one of the girls with whom Jeff fell in love during an earlier experiment.
Rachel, appears in Escape from Spiderhead
Rachel is another girl in "Escape from Spiderhead" with whom Jeff has fallen in love as a result of an experimental drug. During the final experiment, Abnesti tries to force Jeff to give Rachel a dose of Darkenfloxx that Jeff is afraid will cause Rachel to commit suicide just as it did to Heather. Jeff kills himself before experimenters are able to force him to kill Rachel.
Todd Birnie, appears in Exhortation
Todd Birnie is a divisional director in the story "Exhortation." He is the one who writes a memo to his staff enticing them to go about their duties with a positive attitude despite a negative situation. He encourages his employees to do their best because they made a joint decision to make a change in the workplace about a year ago. Birnie apparently is noticing that some workers are grumbling about their working conditions and not wanting to do the jobs they had promised to do. Birnie's intention of the memo is to be encouraging and motivating but he also threatens his workers as well. Birnie reminds his workers that they can be replaced if they are not willing to do what they were hired to do.
Andy, appears in Exhortation
Andy is a character in the story "Exhortation." Birnie uses Andy as an example to encourage workers to do their best. He reminds them of Andy's high performance scores during the month of October. Although it seems that Andy would have been happy with his high scores, Birnie notes in his memo that Andy has become withdrawn and disconsolate since his month of high success.
Al Roosten, appears in Al Roosten
Al Roosten is the title character from the story "Al Roosten." Roosten seems to be of the opinion that life has stacked the deck against him. The biggest problem in his life seems to be his tendency to be inactive when he should be taking a stand for himself. For instance, he kicks Donfrey's keys under some risers because he is angry with the man because he got a better reception at a celebrity auction than Roosten did. Roosten overhears a phone call and realizes that Donfrey is leaving the auction early because he is taking his daughter to see a surgeon about a deformed foot. Roosten is suddenly afraid that his actions might keep the girl from having her surgery, but doesn't want to go back and show Roosten where his keys are because he doesn't want others to know his childishness in kicking the keys in the first place.
Similarly, Roosten believes that his business would do better if there were not homeless people hanging around the store. As he drives back to the store, he thinks about all the things that he'd like to say to these homeless people to get them off his property. When he arrives at his store and one of the men walks up to him, however, Roosten does none of the things he had thought of doing. He only gives the man a non-committal half smile.
Larry Donfrey, appears in Al Roosten
Larry Donfrey is involved in the same celebrity auction as Al Roosten. Donfrey wears a swimsuit in his walk down the runway and gets more applause than Roosten. After the auction, Donfrey tries to comfort Roosten by telling him not to worry about his failure on the runway, making Roosten feel badly about himself.
Dad , appears in The Semplica Girl Diaries
The Dad in the family is the narrator in the story "The Semplica Girl Diaries." He is keeping a journal with the intention of telling others what life was like during his time. He believes it will be a keepsake for his children. He begins by recording his feelings of being worthless because he and his family are struggling to pay their bills. They do not have fancy homes or popular yard decorations like other families. The dad records in his journal that he believes that his luck will change when he wins $10,000 with a scratch off lottery ticket. He and his wife decide to use the money to renovate their yard for their daughter's thirteenth birthday.
What the dad does not count on is the way the Semplica Girls that they install in their front yard will affect their younger daughter. When she sets the girls free, the dad is angry because his way of life is threatened since he is required to pay money to cover the girls' leases. It is only after the dad begins to realize that the Semplica Girls are real people who are loved and cared for by their families that he begins to understand how cruel the SG trend really is.
Lilly, appears in The Semplica Girl Diaries
Lilly is the oldest daughter of Pam and the narrator of this story. Lilly's parents are concerned that she will not feel as if she fits in properly with the rest of the girls her age if they are not able to give her a good birthday party. When asked what she wants for her birthday, Lilly picks out figurines that cost nearly $300 each. It is also Lilly who interviews the family's SGs for a school project on which she is working. She learns what their lives had been like before they came to America as well as their real names.
Eva, appears in The Semplica Girl Diaries
Eva is the youngest daughter in the story "The Semplica Girl Diaries." She is the one who lets the Semplica Girls go free. Since the girls were put in their yard, Eva has been upset about them being there. Even though the father has been aware of Eva's problems with the girls, he had assumed she was just being touchy. At the conclusion of the story, when Eva tells her family that she is the one who let the girls go, the family is afraid that she will be convicted of a felony.
Thomas, appears in The Semplica Girl Diaries
In the story "The Semplica Girl Diaries," Thomas is the one who first notices that the girls are gone. Because he is the one who tells the family about the disappearance, the father assumes that the boy had been part of the plan to let the girls go. It is only after Eva tells her father that she alone is responsible for the missing girls that Thomas is let off the hook.
Pam, appears in The Semplica Girl Diaries
Pam is the mother in the story "The Semplica Girl Diaries." When her husband suggests they use the lottery money that he won to renovate their yard instead of paying bills, she doesn't argue with him. When they learn how much they might owe because their Semplica Girls have gone missing, Pam's first thought is that they will lose their house. It is Pam's idea to try to get her father to lend them some money to pay their bills.
Farmer Rich, appears in The Semplica Girl Diaries
Farmer Rich is the name that Pam's father has given to himself. He dislikes Pam's husband. He believes they have made stupid financial decisions and for this reason will not lend them any money to cover their debts.
Ma, appears in Home
Ma is Mikey and Renee's mother and Harris's girlfriend. She is working at a church in an attempt to pay her bills. She will not allow her boyfriend to question Mikey about his court martial in the war but does brag to others that he saved a man in the war. Ma tells the sheriff about Mikey's attempt to burn down the house with she and Harris inside it. It is when he sees that his mother has to have help getting up from the porch swing at Joy's house that Mikey decides to abandon his plan of killing his family.
Mikey, appears in Home
Mikey is the main character and narrator of the story "Home." He has returned from war and is having trouble adjusting to the ways that the world has changed since he has been away. His ex-wife has remarried a friend of Mikey's from school. This man is now raising Mikey's children. His family is suspicious of him because of the questions surrounding his court martial even though the charges were dropped.
Harris, appears in Home
Harris is Mikey's mother's new boyfriend. He will not work. He makes up stories about Mikey's mother. For instance, he tells Mikey that his mother has a lump. Harris tries to talk to Mikey about what his life was like in the war but Mikey's mother will not allow it.
Don Murray, appears in My Chivalric Fiasco
Don Murray is the boss who rapes Martha, his employee, in the story "My Chivalric Disaster." Don Murray bribes both Martha and Ted, who saw the attack, to keep quiet. When Ted does tell about the rape, Don fires Ted.
Martha, appears in My Chivalric Fiasco
In the story "My Chivalric Fiasco," Martha is the character who is raped by her boss, Don Murray. Martha begs Ted not to tell about the attack because she believes that the knowledge will kill her husband. Martha accepts Don Murray's bribe money to say the attack was really a voluntary fling. She is angry with Ted when he tells about the attack.
Ted, appears in My Chivalric Fiasco
Ted is the character in the story "My Chivalric Fiasco" who sees Martha being raped by Don Murray. Don bribes Ted not to tell about the attack by giving him a better job position. Ted also witnesses Don give Martha $1,000 to make up for the attack. Martha begs Don not to tell her husband about what happened. In the conclusion of the story, Ted is unable to keep what he knows to himself. He tells about the rape although he gets fired and Martha's husband is upset by the attack.
Don Eber, appears in The Tenth of December
Fifty-three year old Don Eber is the main character of the story "The Tenth of December." Don is suffering from some sort of brain tumor that affects the way he speaks and thinks. He has decided the best thing for him to do is kill himself so that he will put his family out of the misery of having to take care of him. He compares his own situation to that of his step-father who changed dramatically because of a similar illness. After Don almost freezes to death near the pond when he is trying to save Robin, Don realizes how much he really wants to live. He realizes that it is not his right to decide to take himself away from his family.
Robin, appears in The Tenth of December
Robin is one of the main characters in the story "The Tenth of December." He is a young boy who is overweight and often picked on by other students in his classes. Robin keeps himself entertained hunting imaginary characters he calls "Nethers" near his home. He is out hunting Nethers when he sees Don Eber walking up Lexow Hill without his coat. Robin has found the man's coat and decides the best thing to do is to return it to him. As Robin cuts across the frozen pond in an attempt to catch up with the man, he falls through the ice. Robin is able to pull himself out of the pond, but Don helps him get home. When Robin makes it home, he realizes that he has left the older man who saved him back at the pond. Robin sends his mother to bring Don back to their house.
This section contains 3,372 words
(approx. 9 pages at 400 words per page)