Snow In August Study Guide

Plot Summary/Synopsis

The story is about a Catholic’s boy friendship with a Jewish man who didn’t have enough faith in God. They lived in an otherwise peaceful neighborhood, until Frankie McCarthy beat up a Jewish business owner. Michael was the main witness to the incident, with the perpetrators thinking that he was the one who ratted them out to the police. Michael had daily Yiddish with Rabbi Hirsch, teaching him English in exchange.

Throughout the course of the book, Michael taught Rabbi Hirsch about a lot of things, including baseball. Frankie McCarthy and his gang continued to terrorize those who are dear to Michael. After they attack Rabbi Hirsch, sending him to a comma, Michael summoned The Golem to get things over with and to finally bring back peace to their lives.

Chapter 1 Summary

The first chapter opens with Michael Devlin waking up inside his dark room, with the cold December air filling the room. He mentions that he’s able to describe every single thing inside his room without opening his eyes. His most treasured possession is a Captain Marvel comic book. He left in on the floor after he fell asleep reading it the night before. He treats Captain Marvel as his mentor and hero after his father, a war victim, died. He keeps a collection of these comics atop of a metal cabinet beside his door.

However, despite the darkness inside his room, he can sense a bright light trying to seep through the heavy shade on his window. He finds himself longing to be somewhere warm, like their kitchen. Michael immediately runs there without even opening up the shade. Upon arriving in the kitchen, he witnesses the biggest snowstorm that he’s seen in his entire life.

He immediately thinks that he can use this storm as an excuse to not go out of his house. Then he realized that he has to attend the 8 o’clock mass as an altar boy, something that disappointed him. He feared that he might commit the sin of “sloth” if he skips mass. He then got giddy about the prospect of being the only person to be at mass aside from Father Heaney. He wanted to experience the adventure. His mother tried to discourage him from attending, as the snow was already covering everything outside. Michael insisted.

Notes: Michael’s stubbornness is already seen during the opening of the book. His innocence as a child is very evident.

Chapter 2 Summary

Michael runs outside to discover that everything is indeed covered with snow, not white, as he thought, but grey. He realizes that he forgot his gloves and decides to not run back upstairs to get them. He didn’t want to be late for the service. The wind outside is too strong for him, but Michael prevails and treks his way to Sacred Heart.

After overcoming a lot of obstacles along his way, he suddenly heard a voice. He saw a man in a black suit peering by a door of the synagogue by Kelsey Street. The man asked Michael to come over, with distress in his voice. The man introduced himself as the rabbi and asked him for help. He asked Michael to turn on a light switch. In exchange, the rabbi gave him a nickel. Michael returned to the storm and trekked to Sacred Heart.

Notes: Michael’s sheltered upbringing instilled fear in him regarding the rabbi. However, his curiosity got the best of him, opening up a new chapter in his life.

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