Edgar Sawtelle is the protagonist in Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. He is fourteen years old and is mute. His inability to voice his thoughts has led to Edgar’s becoming a very impressive observer of his environment and the people and other creatures around him. Edgar helps out on his family’s farm and appears, in the beginning of the novel, to live an idyllic life. His parents are very supportive and engage him in the raising of their trademark dogs. Edgar’s first job is to name all the new puppies, which he does by looking through the dictionary for words that strike him as being well-matched to the pup sitting in front of him.Later, as the puppies are weaned from their mothers, Edgar helps to obedience train them. The author implies that Edgar’s relationship with the dogs goes deeper because both Edgar and the dogs use mostly nonverbal communications. Edgar believes that he can intuit what the dogs are thinking.
Edgar lives in isolation for a large part of the novel, especially after his father dies. Because he lacks verbal communications, he has difficulty relaying his emotions. Because his mother, Trudy, is also emotional distraught when her husband, Gar, dies, she often either misinterprets what Edgar is feeling or completely misses the cues that Edgar sends her way. For example, Edgar becomes suspicious of his Uncle Claude, his father’s brother. But he has no way to explain his skepticism or his downright fear of his uncle to his mother. He is left to his own devices to prove to himself and to his mother that something is not right with Claude. He has no one else to go to, except possibly, to his dogs.
Trudy, Edgar’s mother, is a gentle, loving woman, who becomes somewhat emotionally unbalanced after her husband dies. She is used to leaning on a man for both emotional and physical help. There is a lot of hard labor to be done around the farm and in raising the dogs, the family’s only source of income. Since Edgar is still a young teen and is still in school, much of the load of work falls into Trudy’s hands. So when Claude, her husband’s brother comes around, Trudy is susceptible to his charms. He offers to help out in his brother’s absence.Missing Gar, Trudy blindly accepts Claude as a substitute. Her judgment is clouded by her grief. Although her son, Edgar, attempts to warn her, Trudy pays little attention. She is too desperate to hear the truth.
Gar, Edgar’s father, was everything that his younger brother, Claude, was...
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