The Last American Man Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 23 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Last American Man.
This section contains 532 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Last American Man Summary & Study Guide Description

The Last American Man 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 and a Free Quiz on The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert.

"The Last American Man" by Elizabeth Gilbert begins by introducing Eustace Conway, American naturalist, preservationist, and owner/operator of Turtle Island Preserve outside Boone, North Carolina.

Gilbert refers to Eustace Conway as the last American man. Although Conway was raised in Gastonia, North Carolina, he chose to make his life in the woods. Conway's the first real foray into a life of a naturalist came when he was seven years old. By the time Conway was 12 he began to stay in the woods alone, living off the land. When Conway was 17 he moved out of the family home and lived in the woods in a teepee, surviving solely off the land and his own wilderness survival abilities.

Although Conway came up in the 1960s, the young man had a fascination with ancient ways and the naturalist lifestyle that defied everything his parents and most of civilization stood for at the time. It was this kind of upbringing that led Conway to ride his horse across the United States during which he set a new world record, hike 2,000 miles on the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia, hike the German Alps in sneakers, kayak across Alaska, live with the Navajo Indians in New Mexico, and travel to New Zealand to scale cliffs.

When Conway was in his early 20s, he decided to live with the most primitive people he could find and flew to Guatemala. These types of experiences fulfilled Conway in a way no others could.

Conway went on to go to college where he had a double major in anthropology and English. By this time, Conway was already becoming famous, a man of legend. It was rare for a man to live in the woods because that is what he chose to do, where he belonged. Conway was not a tree hugger or survivalist. The wilderness was simply where Conway wanted and needed to be.

Gilbert met Conway in 1993 in New York City when Conway and his younger brother, Judson, went to visit. Gilbert and Judson were already friends. Gilbert and Eustace would also become lifelong friends, giving the author a valuable insight into this unusual character.

Eustace Conway IV's childhood was not pleasant. His father, Eustace Conway III, was a chemical engineer that prided academia above all else. Little Eustace's lack of desire and ability made him a thorn in Big Eustace's side. Little Eustace would go through his childhood and adolescent years as the target of ridicule and unfair punishment at the hands of Big Eustace.

During this time, Little Eustace found nature. The boy became a fixture at the Scheile Museum of Natural History and spent every waking moment, when he wasn't in church or school, in the woods behind the Conway house.

By the time Conway was 17 he was out in the world, making his way in tune with the land.

Eustace Conway's crowning achievement and life's work lay in the Turtle Island Preserve, located outside Boone, North Carolina. The 1,000-acre preserve had always been Conway's dream and it seems that every act, every adventure led up to owning a nature preserve that could serve to educate, and possibly change, the entire world.

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This section contains 532 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Last American Man Study Guide
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