Bless the Beasts and Children

by: Glendon Swarthout

John Cotton

Characters John Cotton

When the Bedwetters first arrive at Box Canyon Box Camp, they succeed at virtually nothing. John Cotton soon adopts the role of their leader. As a sixteen-year-old counselor, he accepts these misfits into his cabin and works with them throughout the novel. A natural leader, Cotton seems to know when to push the Bedwetters and when to let them determine their own fate. When they do in fact prove their independence, Cotton experiences mixed emotions. While he feels incredible pride in what the group has, he also recognizes that they no longer need him; this realization foreshadows his later death. At the conclusion of novel Cotton sacrifices his life for the good of the group. Despite the sadness of his death, which "cracked their hearts," the last image of Cotton is triumphant and celebratory. Cotton lived, and died, with tremendous vivacity; the mention of his desire to "red hair flaming like a torch" speaks to the strength of his personality. Cotton bears many similarities to Jesus Christ, in that he shares his initials, and in that the Bedwetters have adopted the role of the Disciples. Despite others' scorn and jeers, Cotton remains faithful to his misfit Bedwetters. At the end of this book John Cotton sacrificed his life for the boys just as Jesus Christ did for his disciples. In addition, Cotton gave whiskey to his boys only shortly before his death, much as Jesus partook of the Last Supper with his disciples.