Tenth of December Summary
by George Saunders

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Tenth of December Summary

George Saunders's "Tenth of the December" is a short story in the author's 2013 collection of the same name. It is a narratively disjointed short story that tracks the distinctive interior monologues of two narrators. The primary protagonist is a boy named Robin. The story begins in medias res as the boy decides he must take a pellet gun and go to a beaver dam. The pretext of this journey is the character's seemingly groundless conviction that the beavers, whom he calls "Netherworlders," have kidnapped Suzanne Bledsoe, the new girl at his school. The first portion of Robin's narration centers around a dialogue in which he imagines himself talking at great length (and in trivial conversation befitting their youth) with Suzanne. During this imagined dialogue, the readers learns that Robin has been taunted for having a girl's name and that he is "not the thinnest." Robin is a big-hearted young boy who admits to the imagined Suzanne that he once tried to save a raccoon and failed.

The narration then jumps to the story of Don Eber, who stopped at a pond ten minutes earlier. The reader learns that Eber has two voices in his head, which he identifies as belonging to his father and a man named "Kip," with whom his father left to go to California. Eber also recalls his sister Val and her encouraging him to run for class president—which he in fact achieved. Eber also recalls his relationship with his mother and his stepfather, Allen. Eber remarks that, when Allen became terminally ill, Eber began to refer to Allen as "THAT" because of the new coarseness in his character. Occasionally, Eber admits, "the gentle Allen would be inside there, too." Later in Eber's narration of his interior thoughts, we learn that he has some sort of brain tumor that is incurable. Eber's plans to kill himself stem from his deep-seated desire not to make his family suffer.

The two stories dovetail when Eber sees a "chubby kid in white. With a gun." The gun carried by Robin is an expensive pellet gun given to him by his Aunt Chloe, which he decided to take to the beaver dam in his imagined attempt to rescue Suzanne Bledsoe. Eber sees that Robin has his coat (which the former had taken off several yards back in his conviction to take his own life). When Eber observes Robin, he at first laments that Robin's presence might foil his plans; he fears that he would scar the boy by carrying out his plan in plain sight. Eber then sees from a distance that Robin has fallen into the pond. Eber hobbles to the pond and, arriving there, cannot see Robin. Eber assumes that...

(The entire section is 682 words.)