full title · Bless the Beasts and Children
author · Glendon Swarthout
type of work · Novel
genre · Coming-of-age novel; Western novel; animal rights novel; didactic novel
language · English
time and place written · United States, late 1960s
date of first publication · 1970
publisher · Doubleday
narrator · Anonymous
point of view · Third-person omniscient
tone · Alternately grandiose, reverent, humorous, tragic
tense · Past
setting (time) · Late 1960s
setting (place) · Prescott, Arizona and its environs; Flagstaff, Arizona and its environs
protagonist · John Cotton
major conflict · A group of misfit campers sets out on a mission to rescue a herd of buffalo from their deaths in a brutal, state-sponsored shooting; the campers seek to define themselves as individuals and as men.
rising action · The boys witness the buffalo shooting at the preserve; the boys decide to escape from camp in an effort to rescue the buffalo
climax · The Bedwetters succeed in freeing the buffalo
falling action · Cotton's death and the Bedwetters' consequent mixed emotions of grief and joy
themes · Society's treatment of the powerless; the definition of a man; heroism
motifs · Religious imagery; popular culture; sense of place; tragedy and comedy
symbols · Hats, radios, and flashlights; Box Canyon Boys Camp; the buffalo
foreshadowing · Cotton pretends to vote to return home and abort the mission, testing the Bedwetters' sense of initiative and independence; Cotton appears as if he is "chewing on the idea of eternity"
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