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"