Summary (Masterplots II: American Fiction Series, Revised Edition)
Nothing about twentieth century America pleases Allie Fox. This ingenious Harvard University dropout-turned-handyman is sickened by all he sees around him: fast food, pornography, drugs, pollution, television, violence, and shoddy, overpriced merchandise. Through the eyes of his thirteen-year old son Charlie, the novel’s narrator, readers realize that if the world would only run according to this self-taught Yankee engineer’s parameters and specifications, everything would be perfect. In Father’s estimation, America is going belly-up—the end of the world is nigh—and he is bound and determined to save his family.
Without warning, Father takes his four children and their mother from their home in rural Massachusetts to a ship in Baltimore’s harbor. By the time they arrive at Jeronimo, Honduras, a remote upriver town he buys, Father has convinced them that America will be destroyed by war and that they can never go home again. Here, in a godlike fashion, Father, a present-day Robinson Crusoe, dazzles the natives and reigns supreme, creating order out of chaos. An efficiently functioning farm, houses, sidewalks, barns—all designed by Father—and abundant crops sprout up overnight. He miraculously controls the elements by creating Fat Boy, a gigantic contraption that spews out blocks of ice. While Father battles nature, the children adapt to their natural surroundings. They clear the Acre, where wild fruit and vegetables grow in profusion next...
(The entire section is 704 words.)
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Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Allie “Father” Fox is an angry man, living in a valley in western Massachusetts with his wife and four children and working on Tiny Polski’s asparagus farm while continuing to invent machines. Earlier, the family had lived in Maine, where Father had tried organic farming and creating solar energy, both of which were failures. He had considered the move to Massachusetts a chance to start over.
Father and his oldest son, Charlie, visit Polski with one of Father’s new inventions, a self-contained box that makes ice out of fire and ammonia. Polski makes fun of the invention. Father, already fed up with American culture because of its pornography, religion, materialism, drugs, and waste, plans to move—unknown to the rest of the family. He takes the family shopping, railing at the flimsiness of the merchandise and its prices. Charlie is full of foreboding, which is intensified when he later visits Polski, who warns him that Father is the most obnoxious man he has ever met.
The family sets sail from Baltimore on the ship Unicorn. Aboard, they meet the family of the Reverend Spellgood, whom Father baits and toys with. Charlie learns from Emily Spellgood, the reverend’s daughter, that the Unicorn is headed for the coast of Honduras. Reverend Spellgood has a missionary church in Guampu, upriver from the Mosquito coast. The Foxes land on the coast at La Cieba, where Father buys the deed to a remote town, Jeronimo, from a...
(The entire section is 1094 words.)