The Lincoln Highway Summary & Study Guide

Amor Towles
This Study Guide consists of approximately 76 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Lincoln Highway.
This section contains 653 words
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The Lincoln Highway Summary & Study Guide Description

The Lincoln Highway 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 The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles.

The following version of the novel was used to create this study guide: Towles, Amor. The Lincoln Highway. Viking, October 5, 2021. Kindle.

In the novel The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles, when 18-year-old Emmett Watson told his younger brother William “Billy” Watson they needed to make a fresh start, Billy suggested they follow the route their mother took when she abandoned them, along the Lincoln Highway. Emmett had just been released from a juvenile reform facility for the accidental death of another teen. He dreamed of moving to a place where he could earn a living remodeling houses in disrepair. Emmett’s plan was interrupted when troublemaker Daniel “Duchess” Hewett and mentally and emotionally unstable Wallace “Woolly” Wolcott Martin sneaked out of the same juvenile reform facility in which Emmett had been imprisoned. They stole Emmett’s car and drove to New York, intending to visit a camp in the Adirondacks owned by Woolly’s family and take money out of his grandfather’s safe. Woolly’s grandfather had left the money to Woolly, but a family member had determined Woolly was too unstable to have access to his inheritance. The novel details the adventures of Billy, Emmett, Duchess, and Woolly as they physically travel in the wrong direction, but mature emotionally as they learn truths about themselves and their capabilities.

Emmett and Billy’s plans to go to California are derailed when Duchess and Woolly steal Emmett’s car and head to New York. On the way, Duchess stopped at the house where retired Warden Ackerly lived. Duchess did not like the way Ackerly treated the boys. So, he believed he was only getting even when he hit Ackerly over the head with a cast-iron skillet. Duchess next went to New York City where he searched for his father in an attempt to take care of what he called “unfinished business” (320). Duchess’s father abandoned him at an orphanage because he met a woman he liked. Later, his father made it appear Duchess had stolen a piece of jewelry, a theft that sent Duchess to the reform facility where he met Emmett.

Emmett and Billy followed Duchess by sneaking onboard a boxcar to New York. Emmett followed Duchess through the city finally meeting up with him at a house belonging to Woolly’s sister. Emmett got his car back and believed he and Billy were ready to head to California, via the Lincoln Highway, when Emmett decided he needed to follow Duchess and Woolly to the summer estate that belonged to the Martin family.

There, Emmett discovered that the unstable Woolly had died by suicide. Emmett believed the story that the money in the safe had been a ruse to get Duchess to take Woolly to the place he felt most at home so he could die there. Emmett tried to get Duchess to accept he had been tricked, but Billy figured out the combination to the safe. Emmett also wanted Duchess to go to the police because Emmett had learned that the police were looking for Duchess. They believed he was the one who had hurt Ackerly.

Duchess refused to go to the police. Instead, he held Billy at gunpoint with the intention of taking the money for himself. Because Duchess could not read, he did not know that one of the rules of the Martins' summer camp was that all of the guns were unloaded before the family left the house. Emmett took the gun from Duchess and knocked him unconscious with the butt of it.

When Duchess woke, Emmett had put him and his share of the money in a rowboat with a hole in it. If Duchess moved toward the money, the boat dipped and began filling with water. Duchess's greed caused him to make a lunge for the money. Duchess, who could not swim, fell over the side of the sinking boat and drowned.

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