The Son Summary & Study Guide

Philipp Meyer
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The Son Summary & Study Guide Description

The Son 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 rise and fall of a Texas family made rich in the oil and cattle businesses is detailed in the novel “The Son” by Philipp Meyer. The story spans six generations of the McCullough family from the time it claimed its first headright in Texas through its rise to great wealth to its tragic end. A myriad of themes wind their way through the novel. These include discrimination, family life, cultural relationships, religion, sexuality, death and dying, and wealth and morality.

The bulk of the story is told through the voices of three key members of the family. These include Eli “The Colonel” McCullough, Peter McCullough and Jeanne Anne McCullough. The Colonel is the patriarch of the family. He survived a raid by Comanche Indians on his family’s homestead and lived three years with the tribe. Upon his return to civilization, he survived many years as a Texas Ranger. During his time back in “civilization” he saw the way rich cotton men manipulated their circumstances to get what they wanted. Eli decides he is capable of this as well and does not discourage his fellow Rangers from attacking a band of Union soldiers whom they believe are hauling gold. Eli takes his portion of the loot and buys land for a cattle ranch. His early days on the ranch are made difficult by his Mexican neighbor, Arturo Garcia, whom he believes raids his ranch just a few days after he and his men have returned from their first cattle drive. Eli tries to talk to Arturo but he denies any involvement in the theft though Eli knows the man is responsible because livestock tracks led from his ranch through Arturo’s land. Eli later arranges for Arturo’s family to be killed and Arturo to be shot.

The second narrative voice is that of Peter McCullough, The Colonel’s middle son. The Colonel calls Peter the “son of my disgrace” because Peter ran off to Mexico to live with Maria Garcia, a member of the family that The Colonel considers the family’s mortal enemy. Peter does not have the combative spirit of his father and stands against The Colonel the night that a group of men ride to the Garcia home because they believe the sons-in-law of Pedro Garcia, nephew of Arturo, are responsible for wounding Peter’s son, Glenn. Although Peter tells his father he does not want a war against the Garcias, his father and the men begin shooting anyway. All of the Garcia family, with the exception of Maria, is killed. Maria later comes to the McCullough home seeking help. Peter takes her in despite his father’s wishes.

The third narrator in the novel is Jeanne McCullough, the great-granddaughter of The Colonel. She spends a good deal of time in her formative years with her great-grandfather and while she inherits his drive to make the ranch profitable, the fact that she is female is a mark against her. After the death of her husband, she struggles to get her employees to take her seriously as a boss. Her drive to succeed at her job overshadows her family life, however. As Jeanne lies dying she wonders who might take over the ranch. Her daughter is spoiled and addicted to drugs. Her son is a homosexual who has done little with his life but spend his mother’s money. Her grandchildren seem to have no interest in the ranch.

Ulises Garcia, who is a relative of the McCulloughs through the union of Peter and Maria, exhibits the same drive as The Colonel and Jeanne. He gets a job at the McCullough ranch in hopes that he can earn Jeanne’s good graces and be accepted. Instead, when he goes to introduce himself to her, she stumbles and falls backward causing what Ulises believes is a fatal injury. Knowing he will be blamed for the old lady’s death, Ulises covers up the accident by unscrewing the gas line in the kitchen, which he knows will eventually cause an explosion as the fireplace in the living room is lit. He rides away swearing that he will make a name for himself that no one will ever forget.

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This section contains 704 words
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