Under the Volcano Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 31 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Under the Volcano.
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Under the Volcano Summary & Study Guide Description

Under the Volcano 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 Literary Precedents and a Free Quiz on Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry.

This novel takes place on the final day of Geoffrey Firmin, the British consul to Mexico's life. Moreover, it takes it is also the Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated in Mexico.

The novel opens in the home of Monsieur Laruelle, a Frenchman living in Mexico, who shares a long past with the consul. Laruelle is also friends with the village doctor. The two of them show much concern over the consul's out of control drinking habits.

Next, the author introduces the consul. He appears to have every aspect characteristic of a drunk. He hears voices and imagines things. Also, he loses track of large portions of time. He suffers from the loss of his wife, who left him one year prior. His younger brother, Hugh, lives with him when not traveling for his job as a reporter.

Next, the reader meets Yvonne. She returns to Mexico to rescue her ex-husband. She still dreams of a happy life with him, away from the bad memories of Mexico. She spends much of her time, however, with Hugh. The two go riding in the morning, while the consul attempts to become sober. Hugh listens to her dreams of a peaceful life but fails to show confidence in them.

Upon returning to the consul's home, Hugh helps the older man get dressed for the day. Without a drink in just hours, the consul cannot steady his hand enough to safely shave. Yvonne, Hugh and the consul plan to travel to the nearby town of Parian for some entertainment. On the way out of town, they stop to visit with Laruelle. There appears to be some history between Yvonne and Laruelle, but the details remain vague.

On the bus on the way to Parian, the trio witnesses a man beaten and robbed. The Mexican law, however, prevents them from helping him. Later, the consul remarks that the man, like himself, has a right to die without interference.

In the evening, the consul begins drinking again. In a tirade, he proclaims his rights to die in any way that he likes. Then, he storms from the hotel. Yvonne and Hugh pursue him, but a riderless horse knocks Yvonne down, fatally injuring her. They never find the consul. Then, the reader learns of the consul's fate.

After some time in a bar and brothel, the local police arrest him on questionable charges. The police chief fires a shot, hitting nothing, but spooking the horse that, ironically, kills Yvonne. The consul falls into a ravine and dies.

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This section contains 425 words
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