Dragons in the Waters Summary
by Madeleine L'Engle

Start Your Free Trial

Dragons in the Waters Summary

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Download Dragons in the Waters Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The young hero of the story, thirteen-year-old Simon Bolivar Quentin Phair Renier, is named for his ancestor Quentin Phair and for Simon Bolivar, the South American general who led early nineteenth-century revolutions in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, and Colombia. Quentin Phair was a soldier who aided Bolivar in his battles for independence and then returned to South Carolina to start a new life.

Simon and his mysterious cousin, Forsyth Phair, set sail for Venezuela on the ship Orion, planning to return a portrait of Simon Bolivar that had been given to Quentin decades ago. During the voyage a murder is committed, setting into motion an elaborate mystery plot.

Dragons in the Waters is an adventure story that addresses the problems of growing up in an uncertain world. Although the suspense of the murder appears to dominate the story, the maturation of Simon Renier is the actual focus of the plot. Simon's psychological and moral growth ultimately provides the solution to the problems posed by the novel. Simon struggles with the consequences of his choices, learns to take responsibility for his actions, and gradually to accept the imperfections of himself and others.