The Story of Edgar Sawtelle

by David Wroblewski

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Part 1, Chapters 3-4 Summary

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Trudy and Gar take Edgar to several doctors, who put him through several tests without finding any cause for his inability to speak. Finally, Trudy decides she does not want to put her baby through a childhood of poking and prodding. She takes him to an old woman, Ida Paine, who tells her that he will never learn to speak but that he can use his hands to communicate. Discouraged, Trudy returns home. One day a woman drives up and introduces herself as Louisa Wilkes, the aunt of one of the Sawtelles’ neighbors who is watching one of their dogs. She is not sure why she is there, but she explains that she was directed by Ida Paine to visit the Sawtelles. She examines Edgar, asking Trudy what information the doctors have shared with them. Louisa explains that her parents were deaf, so she learned to sign as she learned to speak from radio and records. She tells Trudy and Gar that they must begin immediately to use signs when communicating with Edgar. In this way, Edgar will pick it up in the same way he would pick up spoken language by listening to his parents. Louisa tells them that all babies want to communicate. If they do not learn a formal language, they will invent one by themselves. She teaches Trudy and Gar a few simple signs so that they can begin to communicate with Edgar by the only way he will learn language.

The first memory that Edgar has is of waking up to see Almondine’s nose stuck through the bars of his crib. He remembers running all over the farm, chased by Almondine. He signs books to the dogs, believing that they understand at least some of it. The doctor brings a deaf man to visit Edgar, who is astonished that a deaf person looks like everyone else. Edgar shows the man how Almondine responds to his signs.

Edgar visits the kennel where his father is tending a dog that has had pups but whose health is failing. The veterinarian comes and puts the dog to sleep after Gar sends Edgar up to the house. During one particularly bad storm, Edgar and Trudy, along with Almondine, hide in the cellar, while Gar watches the storm approaching. The wind blows for a very long time, but when they come out of the cellar, Edgar and Trudy see that the only damage visible is that the blossoms have blown off the apple tree. Behind the house, they hear Gar call out to them. The boards on the barn roof have been curled back, as if a giant had twisted them around his fingers.

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Part 1, Chapters 1-2 Summary


Part 1, Chapters 5-6 Summary