Bless the Beasts and Children

by: Glendon Swarthout

Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

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"