Summary (Censorship (Ready Reference series))
In this novel, four businessmen taking a weekend canoe trip down the untamed Cahulawassee River battle both nature and hill people in “kill-or-be-killed” situations. In lean prose, Dickey graphically details such incidents as a man being savagely sodomized at gunpoint, threats of castration, the sexual overtones of the death climb up a cliff, and the earthy epithets of men stalking and killing others.
The 1970 novel became popular with school-age readers after release of the highly successful 1972 film version, featuring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. However, in challenges occurring in Maryland and Virginia schools, the book was found “obscene.” In Drake, North Dakota, in the 1970’s, the book became part of a much-publicized book- burning and teacher-dismissal case.
The American Booksellers Association has cited two reasons for the frequent bannings of Deliverance in public schools and libraries: its inappropriate themes for the young and its objectionable language. Challengers have deemed the book inappropriate because of its relentless and unnerving violence, depicting how decent men under pressure can revert to primal behavior. Challengers have also questioned the loose morality of the book’s conclusion: The survivors find deliverance back in the civilized world, unrepentant and unpunished after killing several men, disposing of their bodies, and lying repeatedly to the law.
(The entire section is 208 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Deliverance Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Lewis Medlock, Ed Gentry, Drew Ballinger, and Bobby Trippe decide to canoe a river in north Georgia before it is dammed. Lewis promises them an enjoyable time away from the pressures and routines of the city. The four men spend September 14 on the river and have the type of day that Lewis promised. The next morning Ed agrees to take Bobby in his canoe because Lewis is frustrated with Bobby’s ineptness and weakness.
Ed and Bobby stop to rest on the bank since they are tired and, ironically, are well ahead of Lewis and Drew. Two men step out of the woods, one of them trailing a shotgun by the barrel. The taller man seems to be toothless, and the shorter man has white stubble on his face and a stomach that falls through his overalls. In an attempt to pacify these mountain men, Ed tells them that he and Bobby are not government agents looking for a still and would even be interested in buying some moonshine from them if they have it. This comment seems to set something in motion for the mountain men, and they take Ed and Bobby at gunpoint deeper into the woods. The tall, lean man ties Ed to a tree with Ed’s own belt and then turns to Bobby. While the tall man holds the gun, the white-bearded man sodomizes Bobby. They turn then to Ed and decide that he will perform oral sex on the tall man. As they exchange the gun an arrow appears in the middle of the tall man’s chest. Lewis and Drew arrived upon the scene quietly, hearing Bobby’s screams, and Lewis...
(The entire section is 783 words.)
Summary (Magill's Survey of American Literature, Revised Edition)
Deliverance, Dickey’s first novel, is a survivalist adventure story which quickly became a best seller, then a popular film directed by John Boorman and starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight. Dickey turned his interest in hunting and the outdoors into a suspenseful narrative that pits the four main characters not only against a wild river in north Georgia but also against several savage mountain men who prowl the wilderness along the river banks.
The novel’s two epigraphs are much to the point of the events that follow. The first, from the modern French writer Georges Bataille, translates as “there exists at the base of human life a principle of insufficiency.” The second is from the Old Testament prophet Obadiah:“The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee,/ thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock,/ whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart,/ Who shall bring me down to the ground?”
Bataille’s observation explains well the urge that sends these comfortable professional men from Atlanta off on an arduous challenge to their bodies and their spirits. The ringleader is Lewis Medlock, a fitness guru and devotee of outdoor sports, whose mantra is being ever-ready to match himself against some grueling physical challenge. Professing his uncompromising ethic of survival, Lewis puts his philosophy to the test by cajoling others to join him on the trip. The narrator is his friend, Ed Gentry, an advertising agency...
(The entire section is 1439 words.)
James Dickey's novel Deliverance is about a canoeing trip that four men from suburban Atlanta
take through the hills in the northern part of Georgia, where they encounter clannish, primitive people and hazardous natural conditions. Those who survive return to civilization feeling transformed by their experience. The novel starts out the day before the trip, with the four principal characters meeting in a bar to finalize their plans. Lewis Med-ford is the most dynamic of the group, the out-doorsman who has been to this river before, an avid hunter and fisherman. Bobby Trippe is a salesman of mutual funds, an amiable bachelor with a sarcastic sense of humor who enjoys comfort more than conquest. Drew Ballinger is a family man and a devoted employee of a huge soda pop company modeled on Coca-Cola. The narrator of the book is Ed Gentry, he is somewhat of an outdoorsman, in that he fires arrows for target practice with Lewis, but he is also a family man and a businessman, co-owner of an advertising firm. At the initial meeting all of the men agree to join Lewis, but each wants to bring one possession. Ed wants to bring his bow and arrows. Drew wants to bring his old Martin guitar. Bobby wants to bring liquor.
Ed goes back to his office, where he has to shoot photographs for a new ad layout. The ad, for a line of women's underwear, is to feature a young model wearing nothing but the underwear and holding a cat. While positioning...
(The entire section is 2005 words.)