Summary (Masterplots II: British and Commonwealth Fiction Series)
The Wonder-Worker begins with the relatively straightforward account of Timothy Fogel’s conception on the Isle of Wight and his subsequent (and unexpected, since his mother did not know that she was pregnant) birth on the floor of Robinson’s tobacco store in London. After Timothy’s birth and the fire that occurs simultaneously (Gerhard Fogel, his father, left the kettle on the stove in the apartment), Dan Jacobson’s readers know that the Fogels are among life’s losers, especially when Gerhard considers the possibility of Mr. Truter’s being Timothy’s biological father. The plot, however, does not proceed until Jacobson’s unnamed narrator introduces himself, describes his creations, the Fogels, as “caricatures, cartoons, cheap satiric spooks” who “parody” real people, and reveals that he “may be in a bad way, in need of a rest” in the institution where he is confined. Throughout the remainder of the novel, Jacobson shifts back and forth from the narrator’s life to Timothy’s life until the creator and his creation apparently fuse.
Timothy’s life is irrevocably shaped by his playground encounter with Susie Sendin when he is four years old. His effort to impress her on the swings, his failure, and her scornful response characterize his relationship with her throughout the novel: her existence is “entwined with his.” When she taunts him about his mother and Truter, Timothy retreats from the real world and discovers...
(The entire section is 820 words.)
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