Part II: Continental Divide–Lost Summary

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Last Updated on June 8, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 982

Part II: Reenactment

Continental Divide

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The next morning, the boy enacts his plan to embark on a quest to find Manuela’s girls and Echo Canyon. He packs his bag with useful birthday presents he received, such as the camera, Swiss Army Knife, and compass. The boy realizes he forgot to put some of Ma’s things back in the car, so he stuffs them in his bag instead. Next, he packs water and snacks, along with a map he found in the cabin. Lastly, he empties the girl’s bag, leaving only her book so as not to be too heavy on the trek.

The boy gently wakes up the girl and prepares her for the trip. As they walk away from the house, the girl asks if they have permission to leave, and the boy lies and weaves a tale that comforts her. As they walk in silence, the boy contemplates getting lost and never being found, but he decides that it would be better to be lost together than forced by their parents to separate at the end of the trip.

Having used up their water in the first hours of the trek, the kids find a river and rush toward it. During this break, they realize they are truly lost and begin to call for their parents. The boy looks at the map and marks out a path to get them to a town close by. The girl asks him to read something to her, so he takes out the elegy book. The boy reads the Seventh Elegy, which describes the children jumping onto a moving train as it switches tracks.

The next morning, the kids awake to the sound of a motor from a nearby tractor. They approach a man, and the boy asks to take his picture. Using a prepared story, the boy tells the man they just moved here from France and live down the street. He tells him French kids are independent and asks if the man can give them a ride to the Big Tank down the street. The man agrees and takes them there. After he leaves, the kids run toward the water to cool their parched throats. The boy checks the map again, proud that he is on the right path, and realizes it’s only ten miles to the next town, where they can catch a train to Echo Canyon.

The kids reach the Lordsburg train station, which is surrounded by abandoned motels and stores. Hungry, thirsty, and exhausted, they see a diner, and even though they are afraid to get caught, they decide to go in for water. Without telling the girl, the boy decides that after they drink the water, they will run away from the diner and sleep on top of a train, just like the kids in the book.

The kids receive their glasses of water, and the boy dumps packets of sugar in them. The boy also steals two chicken wings from a man’s plate when he heads to the bathroom. The boy is becoming concerned; he knows they need to leave or people will become suspicious. By some act of fate, the man with the chicken wings puts “Space Oddity” on the jukebox, the song they have been singing for days in the car. They use this distraction to slip out of the diner unnoticed. Once they are out the door, they run. After some time, however, the boy realizes the girl is nowhere to be found.

Lost

The boy, lost and scared, climbs on top of a train car as planned. He recounts how the girl earned the name Memphis when the family was in Tennessee and how she sucks her thumb and falls asleep on command. He decides to stay put as a lookout, assuming the girl is looking for him. Lying on his belly, he pulls out the elegy book and reads the Ninth Elegy.

This elegy describes the children jumping between the moving trains. All of them make it except for the last boy, who is too afraid. He finally musters the courage and makes the switch in the knick of time, which causes the man in charge to nearly miss the transition. The boy knows he will be reprimanded for his delay. After reading this section, the boy becomes afraid for the last boy on the train, so much so that he tires himself out thinking about it and falls asleep.

When the boy awakes, he is horrified to discover that the train began moving during the night. He takes out his compass and realizes the train is going West, the way he told the girl they were headed. This reassures him that the girl is on the train and everything will be okay.

The boy decides to look for the girl, which means he must climb down the ladder and onto the gondola cars. He does so carefully as the train jerks back and forth. Just as the boy begins to be overcome by motion sickness and exhaustion, a miracle occurs. He looks down to one of the platforms and sees the girl curled up in a ball, sleeping. He climbs down to her and gently wakes her up, feeling as if life is complete again.

The train comes to a stop, and the boy realizes they have made it to Bowie, the place where Geronimo and his crew were forced onto a train. They get off the train and start walking. Eventually, the girl hits a breaking point from hunger and exhaustion and throws a tantrum. The boy is able to calm her down and keep her moving, but he knows they need food and water.  They find an abandoned gas station, use the restroom, and fill up their water bottles. From there, they walk away from the tracks and into the heart of the desert.

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