Chapter 2 Summary

Springtime storms hit Swamplandia, blowing in from the Gulf, tearing up the vegetation and flooding the already swampy land. Lightning strikes set some of the surrounding small islands on fire. However, nothing else changes in the Bigtree family's life. Tourists continue to avoid Swamplandia, and as Ava puts it, her mother remains dead.

Sometimes the only visitors the Bigtree family receives is Gus Waddell, the captain of the ferryboat that carries supplies from the mainland. Ava recalls that when her mother was still alive, the arrival of the ferryboat was the cause for all the family members to spring into action, manning their stations, at which they greeted the mobs of tourists. During those times, they were so busy that Ava's day would go by without having seen her brother and sister. Now that no tourists are coming, Ava finds that the only people she has to talk to are her siblings, and she is with them all day long.

With so much free time, Ava, Ossie, and Kiwi spend most of their day on the library boat, an old wreck of a yacht once owned by a reclusive but wealthy man who stocked it with books, which he liked to share. That man has since died, but the boat and the books remain available. Usually only Kiwi and Ava went to the library boat to borrow books. Recently, though, Ossie has taken an interest in reading, at least in reading one particular book that she has borrowed. The title of this book is The Spiritist's Telegraph, which Ossie finally allows Ava to look through. The book is very old and is written in a very small font. There are strange illustrations inside, such as a picture of a woman who has no pupils in her eyes. The book is as thick as the Bible, Ava notices. Ossie tells Ava that The Spiritist's Telegraph is an ancient book of witches' spells. In the text, Ava and Ossie read of a special place called the "Underworld." This place, as Ava interprets it, is not like what she has read about Hell....

(The entire section is 599 words.)