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Bless the Beasts and Children

  • Study Guide

Chapters 19 and 20

Summary Chapters 19 and 20

The Bedwetters both celebrate and grieve Cotton's death in the final pages of the book. This bittersweet ending echoes much of the rest of the book, which speaks to the opposing forces of beauty and violence, and compassion and cruelty. Swarthout intrigues the reader by writing an open-ended conclusion to the novel and leaving a certain amount of interpretation up to the reader. In response to whether Cotton's death results from an accident or a suicide, Swarthout responds, "I can't and won't justify the ending of this book. There could be many reasons why Cotton dies. It may have been the last best thing he could do for his friends by ridding them of his leadership. He sacrifices himself, just as he does the chamber pot."