The Man Without a Face Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 28 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Man Without a Face.
This section contains 580 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Man Without a Face Summary & Study Guide Description

The Man Without a Face 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 The Man Without a Face by Isabelle Holland.

"The Man Without A Face," by Isabelle Holland, is the story of fourteen-year-old Charles Norstadt who lives with his family in an apartment in New York City. During summer break from school, the family moves temporarily to their summer home on a peninsula on the Atlantic Coast. Charles is not a happy youngster. His mother is always "on his case." She's critical of his behavior, his activities, his poor performance at school, and his father, her second ex-husband. His mother considers marrying his father the "biggest mistake" she ever made.

Charles' mother is a middle-aged woman who is described as beautiful and youthful for her age. She has four ex-husbands and is working on a fifth marriage. Gloria, Charles' elder sister, follows her mother's lead and treats Charles with as much disdain or even more than her mother. Gloria is seventeen and resembles her mother. Her mother favors Gloria because she is the symbol of her own beauty and youth which are both slipping away.

When Charles learns that Gloria's plans to go away to school have changed and that she will be at home in their New York apartment that fall, Charles decides he must act. He cannot envision spending another four years with his mother and Gloria. Charles' younger sister, Meg, is fat and not as attractive as Gloria. Charles and Meg both feel like outcasts and often share their feelings about dealing with their mother and Gloria.

Charles wants to attend St. Matthews boarding school but he flunked the entry exam. He learns from the school that he will have one more chance to qualify. If he passes his second attempt at an entry exam, he will be accepted by the school. Charles is mature and savvy enough to know that he won't be able to do that without help. Meg proposes that he ask the "man without a face," a reclusive man who is terribly disfigured as a teacher, to tutor him.

Initially, Charles dismisses his sister's idea but eventually he determines that tutoring with the mysterious man may be a good idea. He doesn't want to let his mother or Gloria know what he's doing and sabotage his plans. By being tutored by this man, Justin McLeod, who does not talk to anyone, he should be able to keep his efforts a secret.

McLeod is at first against tutoring Charles but he ultimately agrees to help him, sensing that the young boy is trying to strike out, improve his life, and follow his dream. McLeod is not used to being around other people and at first is remote, distant, and all business. But Charles and McLeod eventually begin to understand and appreciate each other and a bond is formed. Charles sees his missing father in McLeod and McLeod sees Charles as his chance to redeem himself for his actions that resulted in the death of a young boy some years before.

The tutoring is successful and Charles is accepted at St. Matthews. Charles feels compelled to see McLeod again because their last time together was confusing and complicated. Charles wants to make their relationship right again but discovers that McLeod died just a month before. McLeod left his entire estate to Charles except his dog and horse which were given to a man who, like McLeod, has a talent to take damaged creatures and fix them. Looking back, Charles feels that he was damaged goods himself and was rescued by McLeod.

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This section contains 580 words
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