The Pecan Man Summary & Study Guide

Cassie Dandridge Selleck
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This section contains 717 words
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The Pecan Man Summary & Study Guide Description

The Pecan Man 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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“The Pecan Man” is a historical confessional novel by Cassie Dandridge Selleck which recalls a child rape, a murder, and a cover-up in Mayville, Florida, all revolving around a man known locally as the “Pecan Man”. When the novel begins, it is the summer of 1976. Ora Lee Beckworth, recently widowed, hires a local black woman named Blanche Lowery to keep house for her. Ora also takes on a local black homeless man named Eldred “Eddie” Mims – the Pecan Man – to do yardwork for her. Eddie is known as the Pecan Man due to the sacks of fallen pecans he collects from the pecan trees that line Main Street.

Locals are unsure of Eddie at first, with most children finding him to be scary. However, Eddie soon becomes a fixture in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, Ora and Blanche move from not only having a working relationship, but to having a growing friendship as well. Blanche has five children – a son named Marcus, and four daughters named Patrice, Danita, ReNetta, and Grace. Late in September, Blanche and Ora discover that 5-year-old Grace has been brutally raped by Skipper Kornegay, son of the local police chief. Blanche knows that justice for her daughter will be impossible in a small Southern town. Against the advice of Ora, she tells Grace that Grace has dreamt it all.

As the autumn sets in, a degree of normalcy returns to Blanche’s family. However, seeing Skipper in the town’s homecoming parade causes Grace to scream, and Ora, Blanche, and her other children to turn away from the parade before getting to see Patrice marching in it. When she questions why no one was there to see her leading the cheerleading squad, Ora and Blanche blame Grace’s terror on the police car sirens.

Thanksgiving rolls around, and Ora hosts Blanche, her family, and Eddie at her house. Eddie asks how Grace is doing after the incident – something about which Marcus, on leave from Fort Bragg, has no idea. Marcus follows Eddie when he leaves, pressing Eddie for more information. It was Eddie who found Grace following the rape, and delivered Grace to Blanche. Enraged, Marcus finds Skipper in town, only to be chased by Skipper who wields a knife. Marcus and Skipper fight, with Marcus killing Skipper. Ora helps Marcus concoct a plan to get out of town. Marcus is killed in a car accident while driving away. Eddie is targeted for the murder of Skipper. He is beaten up and arrested.

Ora decides she will do whatever she can to clear Eddie’s name. She works closely with her friend Harley T. Odell, the circuit court judge, to keep Eddie’s bail low and to make sure he is no longer treated harshly by the police. Ora does her best to keep Blanche and her family optimistic, hosting Christmas and making sure that Blanche and her children have as wonderful a holiday as possible.

Eddie, meanwhile, decides he will change his plea from innocent to guilty, hoping for a plea bargain that will give him life in prison. That in turn will give him shelter, food, water, a bed, and a toilet – things which he has been living without. It will also spare Blanche the truth about Marcus’s part in the murder. Ora’s conscience is haunted by Eddie’s decision, but has no choice but to go along with it. Blanche likewise consents to things playing out as they do. Ora, however, makes it known privately to the police chief the truth of everything. As a result, Eddie’s plea bargain is quietly accepted, and he is given life in prison.

Decades pass. Blanche dies in 1998 at the age of 59. Grace, a drug-addict, is convinced by Patrice to go into rehab. Eddie dies in 2001, leaving behind a letter for Ora which explains some things about himself. Blanche is Eddie’s illegitimate daughter from before the time he served with the Tuskegee Airmen. The entire novel itself turns out to be a dictated confessional account from Ora. She doesn’t know whether she will end up in jail or in a nursing home, but insists the truth must be known to clear Eddie’s name once and for all, and to allow Grace to truly confront the past.

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