Tenth of December by
George Saunders
Victory Lap by
George Saunders
Child of God by
Cormac McCarthy
The Displaced Person by
Flannery O'Connor
The Waste Land by
T.S. Eliot
A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings by
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Communist Manifesto by
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
Tenth of December summary
11 year old Robin walks through the woods imagining himself a hero who saves his crush Suzanne from the Nethers--evil aliens. While walking through the woods, he finds a coat and decides to find its owner.

Don Eber, 53, chronically ill, is trying to commit suicide via freezing to death to save his family from having to care for him if he loses his mind.

Robin crosses a frozen pond to reach Eber, but the ice breaks and he falls in. He manages to struggle to the shore.

Eber stops dying long enough to cover Robin in his remaining clothes and get him up and moving towards the neighborhood.

Robin flees and tells his mom what happened so she can fix it.

Victory Lap summary
Allison Pope is flouncing around her house pretending to be magical and whatnot when a man comes to her back door and says he is a meter reader. He then tries to kidnap her.

Kyle lives next door and has a crush on Allison. He also has a lot of strict rules to follow from his parents. He breaks them all to throw a geode at the rapist's head. He almost smashes the guy's head in until Allison stops him.

She later has nightmares about Kyle killing that guy.

Child of God summary
Set in mountainous Sevier County, Tennessee, in the 1960s, Child of God tells the story of Lester Ballard, a dispossessed, violent man whom the narrator describes as "a child of God much like yourself perhaps." Ballard's life is a disastrous attempt to exist outside the social order. Successively deprived of parents and homes and with few other ties, Ballard descends literally and figuratively to the level of a cave dweller as he falls deeper into crime and degradation.

The novel is structured in three segments, each segment describing the ever-growing isolation of the protagonist from society. In the first part of the novel, a group of unidentified narrators from Sevierville describe Lester to the audience and frame him within that community's mythology and historical consciousness. The second and third parts of the novel increasingly leave culture and community behind as Lester goes from squatter to cave-dweller to serial killer and necrophile as he becomes increasingly associated with pre-modern and inanimate phenomena.[1] The novel ends with the dehumanized and mutilated Ballard dying in incarceration, his remains eventually dissected by medical students and put on public display, while the long-hidden corpses of his victims are unearthed from his former subterranean haunt.

Lester Ballard. Sheriff Fate. Dumpkeeper.

The Displaced Person summary
The Guizacs, a family fleeing Poland sometime during or just after World War II, arrive at the farm of Mrs. McIntyre, a widow. Also living on the farm are her employees, a white family by the name of Shortley, a young black man named Sulk, and an older black man called Astor. Father Flynn, a Catholic priest, accompanies the Guizacs to the farm.

Mr. Guizac proves to be a talented and hardworking man and Mrs. McIntyre is pleased with him. The other workers, especially Mrs. Shortley, fear that Mr. Guizac will render them useless and they will lose their jobs. Later, she overhears Mrs. McIntyre planning to fire her. Mrs. Shortley and her family pack their belongings and leave the farm.

Mrs. McIntyre learns that Sulk is engaged to be married to Mr. Guizac's sixteen-year-old cousin, who is trapped in a Polish detention camp. Mrs. McIntyre is furious and unleashes her anger on Mr. Guizac, explaining that his white cousin can't marry her black employee. She tells him she'll fire him if he takes it any further. He tries to explain that the marriage might be the girl's only chance to live, but she doesn't care. After this Mrs. McIntyre can't shake her dislike for Mr. Guizac.

Mrs. McIntyre tries to get the Father Flynn's permission to fire Mr. Guizac, and the priest starts avoiding her in order to avoid the subject. Mr. Shortley shows back up at the farm alone. He tells Mrs. McIntyre that Mrs. Shortley has died of a stroke. He blames Mr. Guizac and vows revenge. Mrs. McIntyre promises to fire Mr. Guizac but can't. Mr. Shortley complains to the townspeople about her failure and they pressure her into action. Mrs. McIntyre goes to fire Mr. Guizac one Saturday morning. He is working beneath a tractor, with his legs sticking out. Sulk is nearby.

Mr. Shortley parks the larger tractor on a hill. The break slips. The tractor starts to roll. Nobody warns Mr. Guizac and the tractor snaps his spine, killing him. Sulk and Mr. Shortley leave the farm. Mrs. McIntyre has a nervous collapse and then steadily declines until she is blind, speechless, and bedridden. Visitors are rare, but the priest comes over once a week and talks to her about the Catholic religion.

The Waste Land summary
The Burial of the Dead
It's not the cheeriest of starts, and it gets even drearier from there. The poem's speaker talks about how spring is an awful time of year, stirring up memories of bygone days and unfulfilled desires. Then the poem shifts into specific childhood memories of a woman named Marie. This is followed by a description of tangled, dead trees and land that isn't great for growing stuff. Suddenly, you're in a room with a "clairvoyant" or spiritual medium named Madame Sosostris, who reads you your fortune. And if that weren't enough, you then watch a crowd of people "flow[ing] over London Bridge" like zombies (62). Moving right along...

A Game of Chess
You are transported to the glittery room of a lavish woman, and you notice that hanging from the wall is an image of "the change of Philomel," a woman from Greek myth who was raped by King Tereus and then changed into a nightingale. Some anxious person says that their nerves are bad, and asks you to stay the night. This is followed by a couple of fragments vaguely asking you what you know and remember. The section finishes with a scene of two women chatting and trying to sneak in a few more drinks before closing time at the bar.

The Fire Sermon
Section three opens with a speaker who's hanging out beside London's River Thames and feeling bad about the fact that there's no magic left in the world. The focus swoops back to the story of Philomel for a second, then another speaker talks about how he might have been asked for weekend of sex by a "Smyrna merchant" (209). Next, you're hearing from Tiresias, a blind prophet from myth who was turned into a woman for seven years by the goddess Hera. You hear about a scene where a modern young man and woman—both not much to look at—are having this really awful, loveless sex. Finally, you overhear someone singing a popular song, which in the context of this poem just sounds depressing.

Death By Water
In a brief scene, you watch as a dead sailor named Phlebas decays at the bottom of the ocean, and the poem tells you to think of this young man whenever you start feeling too proud. Good tip, T.S.

What the Thunder Said
Section five takes you to a stony landscape with no water. There are two people walking, and one notices in his peripheral vision that a third person is with them. When he looks over, though, this other person disappears (it's like one of those squiggly lines that dance in the corner of your eye). In a dramatic moment, thunder cracks over the scene, and its noise seems to say three words in Sanskrit: Datta, Dayadhvam, and Damyata, which command you to "Give," "Sympathize," and "Control." This is followed by a repetition of the word Shantih, which means "the peace that passeth all understanding." After all that slogging, T.S. maybe gives us a little hope with this final word. Then again, maybe not.

A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings summary
Pelayo and his wife Elisenda are poor and their kid is sick. One day an old man with wings washes up on shore by their house. He doesn't say much but they do decide he's an angel and when a bunch of people come by to see him they make serious bank. Pelayo and Elisenda hate the angel though. He flies away at the end. Father Gonzaga.
The Communist Manifesto summary
Now on to the Manifesto itself. The beginning is made up of just a few short, fun paragraphs telling us that communism is haunting Europe and that leaders are accusing each other of being communists—but no one actually knows what communism is. Enter the Manifesto to set them all straight.

In Section 1, Marx says that all of history is based on class struggle, and then he details the rise of the bourgeoisie. These rich have become the most powerful class, he says, putting the aristocracy in the shadows. The bourgeoisie control the means of production (the factories, heavy machinery, and agricultural land) and exploit and oppress the working proletariat, keeping the profit for themselves.

To stay on top, the members of the bourgeoisie have to expand across the planet, finding natural resources, new customers, and new workers. They've made life impersonal and miserable for the workers, since now everything boils down to money. The bourgeoisie fights the workers and other members of the bourgeoisie, and the proletarians fight the bourgeoisie and themselves. Some people occupy other spots in the mix of classes (see the "Characters" part of this guide for more), but this show is ultimately about the capitalists versus the workers.

In Section 2, Marx explains what communism advocates by looking at various objections that have been raised against it. For example, Marx says the bourgeoisie accuses the proletariat of wishing to get rid of all private property. But the communists only want to get rid of bourgeois property, by putting the means of production in the hands of the community, while leaving property like personal belongings alone.

Marx concludes with some practical steps the proletariat should take once it gains political power. Karl says the proletarians should take capital away from the rich and abolish inheritance until class distinctions vanish and the vanguard or temporary government withers away.

In Section 3, Marx criticizes socialist and communist views of various other authors, thinkers, and activists. Mostly, he attacks these writers for wanting to merely reform the capitalist system—efforts he thinks are necessarily doomed to fail—instead of downright overthrowing it. Marx also attacks these writers for wanting to set up idealistic little colonies instead of uniting workers of all countries.

In Section 4, Marx notes which political parties the communists ally with in various countries, but he makes it clear that the communists will speak their own minds. Then he calls for a forcible overthrow of the bourgeoisie, a communist revolution. And then he finishes things up with some fabulous all-caps:

WORKING MEN OF ALL COUNTRIES, UNITE!

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