The Butterfly Garden Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 88 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Butterfly Garden.
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The Butterfly Garden Summary & Study Guide Description

The Butterfly Garden Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

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NOTE: All citations in this Study Guide refer to the Kindle version of The Butterfly Garden, published by Thomas & Mercer, June 1, 2016.

Shadow child Inara Morrissey learns that sometimes people do come back in the novel The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison. Teenage Inara was living with a group of friends in New York when she was captured by the Gardener, a man who tended a secret garden he filled with beautiful girls marked with tattoos of butterfly wings. As one of his butterflies, Inara soon became a leader among the girls. When the girls were discovered by the FBI, Inara was taken in for questioning. The novel follows as she tells her story to FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison. Themes include the reality of illusions and the limits of beauty.

As Victor watches Inara in the interview room he thinks that she does not looks like a victim. When he begins questioning her, Victor learns that Inara has been a victim for most of her life. Instead of being broken, Inara believes she is a shadow child—one who is ignored. When she was only six, her parents left her sitting on a carousel while they walked off and left her alone. This was the last time Inara can remember crying. When her parents divorced, Inara was sent to live with her grandmother because neither of her parents wanted her.

After her grandmother’s death, Inara ran away to live in New York. Although she was still a teenager, Inara got a new identity, a job, and moved into an apartment with a group of girls. Among these girls was a woman named Sophia who was a former prostitute and drug addict and who was trying to get clean so she could get custody of her children. A couple of weeks after a Madame Butterfly themed event at the restaurant where Inara worked she was kidnapped by the Gardener and his son, Avery.

Inara was kept in the Garden for two years. During that time she was marked by the Gardener with the tattoo of butterfly wings on her back, as were the other girls who were kept there. Inara was raped by the Gardener and given a new name, Maya, when her tattoo was finished. During the years that Inara was kept in the Garden she learned that when the girls turned twenty-one they were killed and their bodies were preserved and sealed in glass cases filled with resin. These cases lined the hallways of the rooms where the girls lived, serving as constant reminders of what would happen to them if they aged out, tried to escape, or misbehaved.

Life in the Garden came to a head shortly after the Gardener’s youngest son, Desmond, learned what was happening there. The Gardener at first told Desmond that the young women had been removed from the streets and that he was caring for them. After the Gardener had Desmond help him with the murder of one of the girls, Desmond could no longer ignore what was happening but he did not have the bravery it took to tell on his father and brother.

The turning point came when Avery raped and kidnapped a child. The girls and the Gardener alike were shocked when Avery brought the little girl back to the Garden. The Gardener did not take girls younger than 15 and would err on the side of caution in regards to age. It was at this point that Desmond went to the police. Because the Gardener had special walls that covered the rooms in which his kidnapped girls lived, the police found no evidence of the living or dead girls when they visited the first time.

Alerted that his son had told the police what he was doing, the Gardener was angrier than Inara or the other girls had ever seen him. Even so, the Gardener did not punish Desmond as Avery thought he should be punished. Avery shot Desmond in the chest and he shot his father in the side. The Gardener sent Sirvat, a girl who was obsessed with death and dying, to the room where he embalmed the girls for towels and tubing to stop the bleeding from Desmond’s wounds. Instead, Sirvat set fire to the room.

Inara was among the thirteen girls who survived the explosion. Avery was killed but the Gardener and Desmond lived and were expected to survive to stand trial. As Victor finished up interviewing Inara at the hospital, Sophia came looking for Inara because she considered Inara a member of her family. When Inara discovers that she is crying, Victor tells her that the carousel is in her past. A twist at the end unveils a special relationship between Inara and Sophia and helps the reader understand why Inara was so hesitant to give the investigators the information they wanted.

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