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Study Guide for Bleachers by John Grisham - BookNotes

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This is the last page of the free study guide for "Bleachers" by John Grisham.
The complete study guide is currently available as a downloadable PDF, RTF, or MS Word DOC file from the PinkMonkey MonkeyNotes download store. The complete study guide contains summaries and notes for all of the chapters; detailed analysis of the themes, plot structure, and characters; important quotations and analysis; detailed analysis of symbolism, motifs, and imagery; a key facts summary; detailed analysis of the use of foreshadowing and irony; a multiple-choice quiz, and suggested book report ideas and essay topics.


BOOK NOTES / SUMMARY FOR BLEACHERS BY JOHN GRISHAM

WEDNESDAY

Summary (Continued)

This all prompts a discussion about who had the guts to fire Rake after Scotty’s death. Paul says that Scotty was the wrong kid to have died, because his uncle, John Reardon, was the Superintendent of Education. He was the only one with the authority to fire Rake, and that’s exactly what he did. Rake had no answers when people asked what purpose there was in running young men in a sauna until they puked. He stayed home, worked the phones, and tried to ride it out. It split the town right down the middle, with the Boosters threatening to cut off funds and holding an Eddie Rake Revival. However, Reardon wasn’t budging, and even went so far as to fire every coach who refused to take Rake’s place. Finally, the Griffin brothers, former players for Rake, agreed to coach the team. Rake had never changed his playbook in all the years he had coached, and so, they knew every play. The town’s reaction at first was to boycott the games, but no one could stand to be away from the action, and the team itself was really pumped up to win. They dedicated the first game to Scotty and won by four touchdowns. Rake hired a lawyer, and a suit was filed, but Reardon held his ground. The team came together every Friday night, and Paul heard one kid say a year later, that it was such a relief to play the game for the sheer fun of it and not out of fear. They went on to win their first eight games, and the talk began again of a state championship. Then, they lost to Hermantown, a basketball school. The loss ripped the town apart once more, and they failed to qualify for the championship series. The Griffin brothers quit immediately.

The whole argument over Rake turned into class warfare. There was a very small group of people, who were opposed to spending more money on football than on science and math combined. They made their complaints louder and louder, but the situation smoldered for months. Reardon continued to stand firm and found a coach from Oklahoma to take over. Then, it turned into a political brawl when Reardon came up for re-election. There was a rumor that Eddie Rake would run against him and if elected, re-hire himself as head coach. There was also a rumor that Scotty Reardon’s father was willing to spend a million bucks to have his brother re-elected and keep Rake out. In the end, the Rake camp put up a weak candidate named Dudley Bumpus, a local real estate agent, who had been a big mouth in the Boosters. He was a loser, but he almost won. Reardon pulled it out with a margin of 60 votes, and Rake went home and disappeared for almost two years. The two men walk on in the cemetery, passing the grave of a former Rake player who had died in Vietnam and remembering a player whose body was never found there. Finally Neely tells Paul he has to leave, because he’s just tired of talking about death.

Neely’s next stop is Nat’s Place, a bookshop in Messina run by Nat Sawyer, the worst punter in the history of the high school. Twice during their senior year, Nat had managed to miss the ball completely with his foot, creating some of the most watched video footage of all. The second miss had resulted in a 94 yard run for a touchdown - he had been standing in his own end zone, missed the ball completely, and then, in a series of scrambles and more attempts to kick it, he finally picked up the ball and ran it for the TD. Every other player including the opposing school was laughing so hard that no one could have stopped him if they tried! Rake later gave Nat the Award for the Ugliest Touchdown of the Year. When Neely enters the shop, Nat is overwhelmed to see him. Neely, on the other hand, is more than curious about Nat’s abundance of earrings and ponytail. Nat admits that he is gay to satisfy Neely’s curiosity, and Neely admits that the knee injury was another lifetime for him.


Nat goes on to explain how Paul helped him start his shop, and how Eddie Rake’s patronage made the shop work. He believes that Rake - his first customer - made the rest of the town accept him. Rake came every day, and the two would talk only about books, never politics or football. Nat believes that Rake was embarrassed about being fired and that he felt enormously responsible for Scotty’s death. Nat also tells Neely that he misses him every day. He wonders how anyone could have played for him and not miss him. He even gives Rake credit for having greater influence on him than his own father had. Eddie Rake had also told Nat, after he admitted he was gay,that he should just live his life, and that gave him the courage he needed.

Nat mentions the name Cameron and asks Neely if he has seen her. He tells his former teammate that he hopes his conscience still bothers him. Over the course of the commentary about Cameron, Neely reveals that he broke Cameron’s heart to be with Screamer, just because Screamer gave him the sex he wanted. Nat tells him he hated him for it. Finally, Neely extends Nat an invitation to the vigil the other players are holding in the bleachers that night. He leaves Nat by telling him to tell Cameron that he’d like to see her, because he has something important to say.

The third stop Neely makes is the high school. No one there seems to recognize him, which is just fine with him. For a moment, he feels 18 again, because little has changed there in 15 years. Even though basketball was a second-level sport at Messina High, they had one of the finest arenas in the state. This was all due to Rake who helped get a bond issue passed in the late 70’s. Of course, he then used the lobby of the arena to have a massive display case built to house all his trophies and achievements. For a moment, Neely is lost in this glorious tribute to the brilliance of Rake and his players, but comes to the realization that it is more a shrine to Rake, where his followers can worship at his alter. He feels a twinge of regret for those Messina kids who had trained and succeeded but went unnoticed, because they played other sports. At the bell and the change of class, Neely sees a football player wearing the green Spartan letterman jacket and walking with the customary strut of someone who owned the hall. Neely thinks to himself, “Come back in a few years, big boy, and they will not know your name.”

Later in the afternoon, Neely visits Karr’s Hill where Rake had sat and watched all the games after he had been fired. He looks out over the field where there are now new players preparing nervously for Friday night and where Rabbit still mows the field. He had never lost there, and now the memories come floating back. Not wanting to remember them, he leaves.

Dusk arrives and the players drift in to the bleachers. Gossip comes from a man who had delivered a fruit basket to the Rake home that Coach Rake is now so far drifted away that he would never return. Paul has brought two pizzas, and Silo Mooney has brought a cooler of beer. The Utley twins, Ronnie and Donnie, also show up. They had been identical 160 pound linebackers 15 years earlier when each could tackle an oak tree. Rabbit turns on the lights, because Rake is still holding on, though barely. Then, Nat Sawyer finds them, bringing cigars, a cassette player and a cassette tape of the ’87 championship game with Buck Coffey doing the announcing. He had been the “voice of the Spartans” all those years ago. Nat offers to play the tape, but if it’s okay with the others, he insists on skipping the first half. The reader soon learns that all the others echo this sentiment, because they had been down 31-0 at halftime to a gifted East Pike team. Then the tape begins to roll with Buck telling the listeners that East Pike led at halftime in every category except penalties and turnovers. Paul tells Neely that Buck had quit when they fired Rake. His voice now acts like a magnet as other players sitting in the bleachers drift over to the ’87 group. Buck reveals in the broadcast that Coach Rake and his staff had not returned to the field, and the kickoff was about to take place. Someone listening asks where the coaches were. The author comments that that was the great question that had been asked and left unanswered for 15 years in Messina. No one knew why the coaches had boycotted the second half.

This is the last page of the free study guide for "Bleachers" by John Grisham.
The complete study guide is currently available as a downloadable PDF, RTF, or MS Word DOC file from the PinkMonkey MonkeyNotes download store. The complete study guide contains summaries and notes for all of the chapters; detailed analysis of the themes, plot structure, and characters; important quotations and analysis; detailed analysis of symbolism, motifs, and imagery; a key facts summary; detailed analysis of the use of foreshadowing and irony; a multiple-choice quiz, and suggested book report ideas and essay topics.


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