In Watermelon Sugar

by Richard Brautigan

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 258

In Watermelon Sugar, by Richard Brautigan focuses on a settlement called iDEATH. It’s a surrealist novel that focuses on rebellion. The people of the iDEATH community stand in contrast to a city built on rubble called the Forgotten Works.

Almost everything in the commune of iDEATH is made from watermelon sugar, which is where the title comes from. One way to handle your assignment on the book is to organize it into three parts, like the three parts of the novel. The part called “Book 1” starts off with the first person narrator talking about some of the other characters like his girlfriend Pauline and his ex-girlfriend Margaret.

The other books continue to set up the central plot of the novel, which involves Margaret, the narrator’s girlfriend, making friends with a cult leader named InBoil, who goes to the Forgotten Works to make whiskey.

The plot, on the whole, can be difficult to follow, because it is so dream-like, with every day bringing a different colored sun, for example. Another example is how the narrator claims his parents were eaten by tigers that may possibly have been intelligent like humans. It’s definitely written in a way that invites interpretation, so it will likely help your case to interpret the plot a bit and come to a conclusion on your own whether each event is metaphorical or literal.

The plot can be interpreted as an allegory about how the perfect life in balance with nature might not be all it’s cracked up to be, for example.

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