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Free Study Guide for Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

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This is the last page of the free study guide for "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger.
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.



BOOKNOTES / PLOT SUMMARY - PEACE LIKE A RIVER

AT WAR WITH THIS WHOLE WORLD

Summary

Swede has asked to bring along her saddle, and it sits in the Airstream on a sawhorse they brought along, too. She sits on it and types on the typewriter when she needs to deal with her poem. Dad gives in to these requests from Swede, because he loves her so much he can deny her nothing. The first thing she types is, “And so we take our leave. So we forsake the encouraging company of the last friendly outpost, riding alone into a wide cold land in pursuit of our brother. What a speck we are on this vast prospect! How small appear our chances of success!” ( page 150) At age eight, Swede seems to understand their predicament better than Dad and Reuben. She also mentions that they are headed for the Badlands which August calls a big busted up place, but where he believes Davy has gone. Swede finds the journey romantic in the sense that it imitates the characters she loves from the Old West. She will eventually write dozens of pages before they return to Roofing. Reuben discusses all aspects of Davy’s ordeal with Swede, but the biggest question for both is, “You still want him to come home if he has to be in jail?” (page 152) Reuben can’t say either yes or no, because he fears the outcome of honesty - his answer might reach forward in time and arrange the events to come. Davy is now traveling in August’s Studebaker even though the older man had wanted him to turn himself in. This is also confusing to Reuben. Why would August believe one way, but do exactly the opposite?

They continue on their way in the Airstream and stop in a park in Linton, North Dakota. Unfortunately, Swede awakens Reuben to tell him that Andreeson is sitting in his car across the park. He even sees them watching him and waves at them. Swede thinks he’s desperate and follows them, because he doesn’t know what else to do. However, Reuben thinks otherwise: he can describe Andreeson’s look as sharp or canny or borderline humorous. But not desperate - desperate guys don’t salute. Then, Dad awakes with another one of his fierce headaches and decides they will stay put until morning. He takes two aspirins and promises to wake up for supper as long as it’s chicken and dumplings. Swede is disappointed, because when Andreeson pulls away, she thinks he’s going to find a bathroom. She has great thoughts of them pulling away while Andreeson is sitting on the toilet!


While they are sitting down to the chicken and dumplings Swede has made, someone knocks on the door of the Airstream. It is Andreeson, and for one second, Dad is silent, perhaps thinking that the knock is Davy, come to reconcile. Andreeson tries to convince Dad to tell him where Davy is, sure that they are searching for him. Dad never lies about what they know, but Andreeson knows a great deal about their finances and August and Birdie. He is arrogant about every thing, even calling August and Birdie by their first names instead of the more respectful Mr. and Mrs. Shultz. He threatens Dad by saying that the Shultzes lied about Davy being there, and so they are accessories. Dad responds by telling Andreeson that he has lied twice to them just since he stepped in the door. That sets Andreeson back a bit. So when Dad responds to the Federal Agent’s comment that they don’t have to be enemies with the comment, “Mr. Andreeson, it appears that we do,” the agent sees that he must leave and does. Just as he’s going out the door, Swede is coming in. They hadn’t even noticed she was gone.

The next morning, it is Swede who routs them out of bed which should have alerted Reuben, because she was rarely awake before Dad. She is urgently begging them to get going, but Dad feels none of it. He wants to stay parked for a few days, but Swede insists that she’s prayed, and it’s the will of God that they get going. So, Dad agrees, and they are soon back on the road. The two kids stay in the trailer under the blankets, discussing Andreeson. They are happy that they gave him the slip, but for Swede it is fleeting relief, because she knows if he found them once, he could do so again.

One of their next problems is their need for gasoline. A 1955 Plymouth wagon is a gas-guzzler at best, and it is now pulling a big trailer to make gas economy nearly impossible. Dad has bought two red five-gallon cans to extend their range, but eventually they still have to stop at a station. They plan to stop in Mandan, but there’s no one at the first station. Then at all the other stations in the town, there are state troopers, sitting there waiting for them to stop. For Reuben’s memory, Mandan becomes a silent movie - no sounds, just people walking along in the cold and the wind with troopers in their state cars sitting motionlessly and silently as the Airstream drives by. Reuben feels a chill and a sob rolling up out of him. He thinks, “It is one thing to say you’re at war with this whole world and stick your chest out and believing it, but when the world shows up with its crushing numbers and its predatory knowledge, it is another thing completely. “ (page 166)

Notes

This chapter is a reflection of the motif of war. The Lands seem to have the whole world against them, and Reuben can only shut his eyes and rock as they pass through enemy territory in Mandan.

 

This is the last page of the free study guide for "Peace Like a River" by Leif Enger.
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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