Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Ceremony in Lone Tree is a continuation of the story begun in The Field of Vision. Once again, Morris uses many of the same characters he employed in the previous novel: Tom Scanlon, the man who lives his life in the past; McKee, the embodiment of middle-class conventionality; McKee’s wife, Lois, a woman encased in her inhibitions; their grandson Gordon, the “infant Davy Crockett”; and Boyd, the “self-unmade man.” This time, however, the scene is different. Instead of using Mexico, Morris employs the ghost town of Lone Tree as a setting.
To the five familiar faces Morris used in The Field of Vision, Morris adds Maxine Momeyer, Scanlon’s second daughter; Maxine’s husband, Bud; and daughter Etoile, who looks like a young Lois but has none of her inhibitions. The Momeyers have a nephew named Lee Roy, who uses his car to kill two taunting classmates and who shares local headlines with Charlie Munger, a murderer who slays ten innocent victims. In addition, Morris introduces Scanlon’s third daughter, Edna; Edna’s blustery husband, Clyde; little Gordon’s inarticulate older brother, Calvin; Calvin’s outspoken mother, Eileen; a character called “Daughter” (whom Boyd picks up in a restaurant in Nevada); and an unsuccessful writer of Westerns named Jennings.
By adding to the cast of characters and changing the setting, Morris is able to refine the vision of failure he introduced in The Field of...
(The entire section is 585 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Tom Scanlon spends his life in the Lone Tree Hotel in Lone Tree, Nebraska, now a ghost town. The winter before he is ninety, his daughter Lois and her husband, Walter, take him on a trip to Mexico. There they run into Walter’s old friend Gordon Boyd, who left Nebraska because he could not have Lois. Later, Walter writes to Boyd and invites him to a reunion in Lone Tree late in March, on Tom’s ninetieth birthday.
After much soul-searching, Boyd leaves Acapulco in his dilapidated car and heads north. In a Nevada town, where tourists come to see nuclear bomb tests, Boyd offers a ride to a young, penniless girl. In Nebraska, after the car rolls into a ditch, Boyd and “Daughter” hop a passing freight train.
The members of Tom’s family share several worries. One is the increasing violence around them. In Lincoln, Charlie Munger shot ten people, and Bud Momeyer’s nephew, Lee Roy Momeyer, ran his car over two boys, killing them. Lois is concerned about her grandson Gordon McKee, who loves guns and likes to torment women. Even the friendly Bud has a sadistic streak; his hobby is shooting cats with a bow and arrow.
The women in the family also discuss the possibility of marriage between two cousins, the Momeyer girl, Etoile, and the older Gordon McKee’s son, Calvin. Etoile’s mother, Maxine, sees this as a chance for her daughter to catch a husband with money, but Etoile is primarily interested in sex. Calvin just wants to be...
(The entire section is 812 words.)