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STUDY GUIDE: THE CIDER HOUSE RULES BY JOHN IRVING
The Cider House Rules takes place in two distinct settings. The majority of the action happens in St. Cloudís, Maine. St. Cloudís
began as a logging camp in a low river valley. It was initially called Clouds because in the low valley, there was fog until midmorning
and a constant mist from the waterfalls. It became St. Cloudís because of the habit of Catholics of adding the word saint before so
many things. Eventually, St. Cloudís became a mill town, perpetually covered in sawdust. It was in spring, or rather the mud season,
when the town was immobilized by the thawing mud, and future orphans were conceived. At St. Cloudís, children are delivered of
their mothers and mothers delivered of their children. When the Ramses Paper Company had cut down all the trees in the area, they
closed down the mill, leaving an abandoned town filled with deserted prostitutes and the orphanage founded by Dr. Wilbur Larch.
Action takes place in St. Cloudís throughout the novel between the 1920's
and the 1950's. However, a little over 15 years of the novel also takes
place in the two closely knit Maine towns of Heartís Haven and Heartís
Rock. Unlike the abandoned town of St. Cloudís, Heartís Haven and Heartís
Rock represent the life that exists outside the isolation of the orphanage.
The towns show the life that is possible for an orphan. A life where one
has the necessities of life and love. However, these towns and the people
living in them show that life, no matter where it is or how much one has,
can still be filled with difficulties. The well to do live in Heartís
Haven. Heartís Haven is inland of Heartís Rock, named for an uninhabitable
rock island that floated in the middle of its otherwise perfect harbor.
Connecting Heartís Haven and Heartís Rock was the Ocean View Orchards,
a place where the main character, Homer, would spend many years.
The father of Angel Wells. Homer is an orphaned boy who ďbelongedĒ
to St. Cloudís. Homer is adopted four times before becoming a permanent
member of St. Cloudís. Always of use, Homer becomes Dr. Larchís protégé,
learning to perform obstetric procedures including abortions. However,
Homer disagrees with Larchís view of abortion. Homer believes that the
ďproducts of conceptionĒ is a human life. Homer leaves St. Cloudís with
Candy Kendall and Wally Worthington and spends the next 15 or so years
with them. Eventually, Homer returns to St. Cloudís to continue Dr. Larchís
Dr. Wilbur Larch
Founder and director of the St. Cloudís orphanage as well as
St. Cloudís self-appointed historian. Early in his medical career, Dr.
Larch learns unwanted pregnancies know no class boundaries, but the availability
of a safe abortion does. Larch is an obstetrician-- delivering babies,
the Lordís work-and an abortionist--delivering mothers, the Devilís work.
Larch is Homerís only father figure, and Homer is the only person or thing
that Larch loves.
Candy Kendall (Worthington)
Daughter of Ray Kendall, mother of Angel Wells, wife of Wally
Worthington, and in love with Homer Wells. Candy is a loyal, strong, and
independent woman. She has an abortion at St. Cloudís, where she and Wally
meet Homer. She loves both Wally and Homer. She begins a relationship
with Homer when Wally is missing and presumed dead in World War II. When
Wally returns, she marries him. She insists on keeping her relationship
with Homer and the fact that she is Angelís mother a secret.
An orphan of St. Cloudís. She was abandoned at the age of 4 or
5. She had six foster homes. She searches for a home and a hero. She is
strong, tough, and aggressive physically and mentally. She is Homerís
first sexual partner. She makes Homer promise not to leave her, and when
he does, she searches for him. She is clear in her purpose and acts decisively
The son of Olive and Senior Worthington and husband of Candy
Kendall. He is handsome, boyish, and playful. His one ambition is to be
a pilot. He joins the Air Force and his plane is shot down over Burma.
Over a year later after being missing and presumed dead, he returns paralyzed
from the waist down and sterile.
The son of Homer Wells and Candy Kendall. He believed he was
adopted until he was 15. He grows up to be a novelist. He falls in love
with Rose Rose.
Nurses Edna, Angela, and Caroline
Nurses at St. Cloudís orphanage. They supported and assisted
Dr. Larch in both the Lordís and the Devilís work.
The mother of Wally and wife of Senior. She grew up poor but
taught herself the manners of the rich. She was a smart business woman
who ran their apple business well. She dies of cancer before Wally returns
from the war.
The father of Wally and wife to Olive. For years, he unknowingly
suffers from Alzheimerís disease.
The widowed father of Candy. He was a jack-of-all-trades that
worked with his hands. In addition to his lobster business, he worked
on the machinery of the Ocean View Orchard and built torpedoes during
The boss of the picking crew every year. He had his own rules,
which he enforced with the blade of a knife. He sexually abused his daughter,
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The daughter of Mr. Rose. Angel was in love with her. She was
sexually abused by her father. Homer performed his first abortion on her.
She killed her father before leaving Ocean View.
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