Summary

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Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 373

In Monkeys, Susan Minot's brief novel (of fewer than 200 pages), she showcases the life of a wealthy but unhappy family of seven living on the North Shore of Boston Massachusetts in the 1960s and 1970s. The novel spans thirteen years of the children's childhood. The first section is narrated by Sophie, the the second oldest child of the seven (which include eleven-year-old Caitlin, Delilah, Gus, Sherman, Chicky, Minny). The rest of the nine total chapters tell the story of the family from the third-person.

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The mother, Rosie, is a dedicated house wife who tries to hide their father's alcoholism from her family. She is a beautiful woman (and former figure skater) who married Augustus ("Gus") Vincent, a former hockey player at Harvard when they were young. On day, Rosie encourages all of the children to hide in the closet to make their dad look for them; however, when he returns home, he simply sits down with a beer on the couch, unfazed by their absence.

The children are reluctant to be with their distant father, who, during one Thanksgiving dinner, tells Rosie to "go shoot herself," which leaves the children more uncomfortable than ever. During a family trip to Bermuda, Gus, the child, steals his wallet just so that he can prove himself a hero by finding it.

At one point, the children confront Augustus about his alcoholism, and he makes a short-lived effort to stop drinking on a vacation in Maine, but soon after reverts to his old ways.

Rosie has an affair with a man named Kittredge, with whom she has a child, Miranda. Shortly after Miranda's birth, Rosie dies and leaves her family to cope with her loss. When she is found dead in a car that collided with a train, Sherman, her son, thinks it was a suicide.

They all come together to celebrate Christmas, though the absence of their mother is palpable. Many of the children are using marijuana, and their father remains distant and remote.

At the end, the elder Gus (who has remarried) resolves to scatter Rosie's ashes where she wanted them scattered: on the water in Maine. The children join him for this, and the novel ends as the children wonder where to go next.

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