A Summary: In 1970s Western North Carolina, a young man stumbles across a grove of marijuana, sees an opportunity to make some easy money, and steps into the jaws of a bear trap. He is discovered by the ruthless farmer who set the trap to protect his plants, and begins his struggle with the evils of his community’s present as well as those of its history. Before long, he has moved out of his parents’ home to live with a onetime schoolteacher who now lives in a trailer outside town, deals a few drugs, and studies journals from the Civil War.
Their fates become entwined as the community’s terrible past and corrupt present lead to a violent reckoning with the marijuana farmer and with a Civil War massacre that continues to divide an Appalachian community. Major themes: Knowledge vs. Ignorance – self knowledge is the most important part of the protagonist, Travis. Here Travis is trying to portray a tough guy, ignorant attitude when really he is a scrawny boy. Travis gains knowledge from the books he finds in Leonard’s trailer.
He gains knowledge by Leonard teaching him in the trailer. Knowledge never leaves you. Travis’ goal as the protagonist in this book is to better himself and start a change in his life. Why would he want to better himself? Travis is trying to find out who he is. He starts off as a want to be tough guy who hangs with the rebels. That’s the way of life in the North Carolina Mountains no one really gives school a chance in the fact that most of the students end up as farmers.
Travis’ ignorance for school and life in the beginning is very high. Knowledge consumes us in the fact we are always looking for new information and trying to obtain that all knowing self. Travis finds his way not the usual way of going through grade school but successfully gaining a GED. This sets him at an accomplishment something also his father never did. Travis sees himself heading down a road of hardships, Success, and failure.
But Travis will learn from the mistakes and gain knowledge of the subject and move on to better himself for the future and what ever it may hold. Characters: Travis Shelton, 17 years old, high school dropout discouraged from bettering himself by his tobacco farmer father. Leonard Shuler, a former schoolteacher, now small-time drug dealer, whose career was ended by a student. Carlton Toomey, a ruthless and wily farmer and drug dealer. Dena, once a pretty young woman, who has become a heavy drug user.
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