Inhalt The Book Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter" was written by Tom Franklin in 2010. The story begins in the 1970s and ends in the present. Larry Ott is a nerdy white boy, an undoubtedly Crooked Type Crooked. Like his father, he later becomes a car mechanic. Larry and Silas Jones, a black baseball player who returns to the village as a constable many years after leaving school, are secret friends for a short time as schoolboys. Larry is linked to the disappearance of Cindy Walker. Her body is never found and there is no evidence. Twenty-five years later, another girl disappears, and the culprit for all the citizens of the small town is again Larry. When Silas is assigned to solve the case, the two men must face old secrets and hurts to bring the truth to light. Characters Larry Ott „Scary Larry" is an outsider who just wants to be accepted • was not a strong, healthy boy that his father could be proud of • was teased and bullied by the other kids, even from a young age unusual hobbies make him a misfit, feminin features, loves reading ● Crooked letter, Crooked letter • finds it hard to judge whether people really want to be friends with him -> naive • his...
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loneliness leads him to misjudge Wallace ● feels empathy with monsters -> thats how other people see him • at the end of the novel, he wants to change his passive life Carl Ott is an abusive father, raising his son by demanding respecte instead of showing love • dislikes his son -> is scornful both of his appearance and his interests does not want to teach Larry his trade enjoys other people`s humiliation • takes little responsibility for his past actions Alice Jones loves her son deeply and sacrifices a lot for him takes Silas to live in Mississippi to start a new life ● very attractive to men, many of whom use her • works hard to make a better life for them, which Silas dos not appreciate or acknowledge at the time • is afraid of the repercussions of Silas`s relationship with Cindy, because she has had a similar experience herself ● Silas Jones local police constable who has to come to terms with his past, baseball team • takes risks • has lied to himself about the significance of certsin events in his past • forced to admit his guilt and responsibility for what has happened to Larry • has to work for Larry`s forgiveness • it`s a shock to discover the father he has always longed for is, in fact, Carl Ott • comes to realize how badly he treated his mother • has to learn empathy Ina Ott Larry`s mother is devoted to her son is a housewife who is very religious ● loves and protects her son -> wants him to be happy treatment of Alice is cold and unforgiving develops dementia after Larry is accused of killing Cindy Walker • her solution to Larry`s problem is a prayer ● ● Cindy Walker her date with Larry changes both his and Silas 's life forever pretty and popular • tries to stand up to her step-father, but he becomes gradually more abusive towards her ● • dreams of escaping their small town with Silas ● • Larry is her victim: she forces him into the situation that leads to his being octracized by the community Cecil Walker Cindy's abusive step-father is presumably also her killer unemployed and spends his days drinking beer enjoys playing cruel tricks on Cindy • is abusive towards his step-daughter and clearly wants to have sex with her • allows Larry to take the blame for Cindy's murder Themes and Motifs The ambiguity of belonging • The novel deals with the ambiguity of social identity and personal identity Larry is white, but is not accepted by the other white boys ● • He tries to fit in but is not able to connect with his peers because their interests are so different • Even after his success at the haunted house, the others reject him. . As an adult, he has come to terms with his status as an outsider • Silas is sure of his identity but finds out that things are not as they seem • It is hard for him to accept Larry as his brother - his feelings about it are ambiguous • Silas develops a sense of belonging to a place by discovering his roots How the boy he'd been had grown to be the man he was Silas has to face up to his past actions and take responsibility for them • The novel describes how the past affects the present ● • Silas did not speak out about Cindy, through fear of getting into trouble but also because, as a young man, he did not consider the consequences • As an adult, he sees how easy it has been to avoid taking responsibility • He is forced to find the courage to do the right thing The monster behind the mask • The horrifying zombie mask seems to hide a monster ● Larry sees his attacker as a monster in a mask • At school, the mask gives him his one taste of popularity • As an adult, he uses the mask as a harmless way to scare off an intruder • A mask makes the wearer anonymous and distances them from their actions Wallace Stringfellow fascinated by Larry, Wallace commits a `copycat murder' in honor of his hero • from the first time he heard about Larry, Wallace has wanted to meet him ● offers Larry friendship, something nobody else has done for years • has several sick fantasies ● • one reason why he kills Tina Rutherford is his certainity that Larry is also a killer The "Crooked Letter": rural Mississippi • The title of the novel refers directly to its setting, showing that it must be significant • Some things in the novel are not what they seem: there is something "crooked" going on • The Small-town attitudes make life difficult for Larry. ● Officially, there is no more racial segregation, yet blacks and whites do not of mix • Even in the present day, there is still evidence of racial discrimination Friendship and betrayal More than anything, Larry wants a friend, but the friends he makes cause unforeseen difficulties in his life • He is not accepted by the other white boys of his age •As unlikely as it seems, he and Silas have a lot in common Larry betrays Silas, but Silas's betrayal of his old friend is far more serious • It takes Larry a long time to realize that Wallace is not really his friend Structure and point of view • The story is told through a combination of present-day action and flashbacks The novel has nineteen chapters ● It is told in the present day and through flashbacks • The story is told from different points of view ● Fast Facts Timeline and Narrative Perspective Chapter Time / Point of view Chapter present (Larry) One Two present (Silas) Three flashback (Larry) Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven Twelve Thirteen Fourteen Fifteen Sixteen Seventeen Eighteen Nineteen present (Silas) flashback (Larry) present/flash back (Silas) flashback to 1982 (Larry) present (Silas) flashback (Larry) present/ flashback (Silas) present (Larry) present (Silas) present (Larry) present (Silas) present (Larry) present (Silas) present (Larry) present (Silas) present (Larry and Silas) Main events Larry is shot by an intruder wearing his zombie mask and left to die on the floor in his house Silas finds M&M's body; he sends the ambulance to Larry's house. Larry and Silas first meet; Larry is tricked into insulting a black girl at school; Larry befriends Silas and teaches him to shoot. Silas and French investigate the crime scene at Larry's house; Silas discovers a message from Larry on his answering machine. Larry takes Silas to spy on Cindy; Silas defends Cindy against Cecil; Carl forces the boys to fight. Silas finds the photo of his mother in Larry's attic; he remembers his journey from Chicago to Mississippi with his mother. Larry's date with Cindy; she persuades him to drive her to her boyfriend's place and is never seen again Silas and Angie talk about the case; he tells her about Larry's zombie mask; Silas visits Larry and Mrs. Ott for the first time; he encounters Wallace driving his four-wheeler; he discovers a grave in the old hunting cabin. Wallace starts visiting Larry; Larry realizes he had seen him as a boy; Wallace turns on Larry when he won't admit to killing Cindy It is confirmed that Tina Rutherford's body was in the cabin; Larry is now the only suspect; Silas guards his hospital room at night and tells Larry not to confess; he discovers Mrs. Ott is being neglected in the nursing home; he tells Angie about his relationship with Cindy; they realize Cecil must have killed her Larry regains consciousness; French interviews him and tries to get a confession Silas rushes to the hospital when he hears Larry is awake; Larry is glad to see him until he admits what really happened on the night Cindy disappeared; Silas goes to a bar to get drunk and meets Irina again; she tells him about her.roommate who narrowly avoided being raped by Wallace Larry is still restrained on his hospital bed; he remembers that Wallace almost confessed some thing to him a few nights before the shooting; Larry realizes the truth and asks to talk to French Silas goes to Wallace's house; Wallace sets his dog on Silas and shoots him. Larry hears that Silas has been shot; he tells French about Wallace; Silas is put in the same room as Larry after his surgery Silas tells Larry they are half- brothers; Larry asks to be moved to another room. Sila's has lots of visitors; it is confirmed that Wallace killed Tina; Silas is discharged from hospital Silas visits Larry but Larry will not speak to him; he and Angie clean up Larry's house. Larry walks out of the hospital; Silas finds him and drives him home; Larry offers to repair the Jeep Silas and Larry - Key Moments Larry and Silas meet for the first time Larry initiates the friendship Silas only visits Larry at home once Larry and Silas secretly. watch Cindy and her father Larry drives Cindy to meet her boyfriend, not knowing it is Silas • Silas shows interest in Larry's book. Larry senses that Silas is his "doppelgänger" • He teaches Silas to shoot and fish • He lends Silas the rifle ● They catch snakes in the barn • Silas cuts the grass and Carl praises Larry for Silas's work ● • Silas jumps to Cindy's defense • Carl makes the boys fight for the rifle ● Larry insults Silas and their friendship ends She does not turn up at the agreed meeting. place Larry is blamed for her disappearance because Silas does not speak out ● The Ambiguity of belonging Belonging being certain of one's place in Society or of one's personal identity Ambiguity • social or personal identity is not always as clear-cut as it seems Larry tries to get back in contact with Silas after he returns to Chabot ● Silas saves Larry's life by sending the ambulance to his house Larry is angry with Silas and wants nothing to do with him. Larry: ambiguity of social identity The black kids and white kids form two distinct groups -> they do not mix Larry is white, but is not accepted by the other white boys • He has different interests -> the other boys laugh at him • He longs to be accepted but does not know how -> his attempts to attract their attention, e.g. by bringing snakes to school confirm his reputation as 'weird' • Wearing his zombie mask at the haunted house -> the one time he thinks he has been accepted • It is an illusion -> his peers still want nothing to do with. him • As an adult it seems he will always be "Scary Larry" -> even after his name has been cleared, he wonders if he will ever lose his reputation as an outsider • Silas ignores his calls and pretends he does not have time for his old friend • Silas discovers he and Larry are half-brothers. • He reveals what really happened the night Cindy disappeared. • Silas tries to make amends by visiting Larry in hospital and cleaning up his house. • He finds Larry walking home and drives him there • Larry offers to fix the Jeep Silas: ambiguity of personal identity • His identity seems clear • He finds it easy to integrate at his new school -> fits in with the other black kids • He grew up not knowing his father and has come to accept that • The discovery that Carl Ott is his father makes him question his identity -> he is not the person he thought he was • The fact that he and Larry are half-brothers forces him to reassess their relationship -> one reason why he tries to make amends for his behavior • Silas was the cool kid but proves to have a close connection with the misfit -> ambiguity • His sense of belonging to Mississippi -> mixed feelings at first, but his roots are there The ,,Crooked Letter" • An 's! looks like a snake.. • Snakes play an important role in the novel, e.g. the snake in the mailbox; Larry likes catching them; Wallace keeps snakes A "crooked letter" is the letter 's' The "Crooked Letter" symbolizes Mississippi. itself The setting implies certain attitudes that are often found in the rural south: racism and discrimination, unwillingness to accept people who do not fit in Betrayal ● ● Larry's and Silas's friendship is unusual People would disapprove if they knew a white boy was friends with a black boy ● Silas's relationship with Cindy is dangerous for the same • The storyline is 'crooked' • The story is not told chronologically, but by means of flash backs ● Things are not what they seem: the truth is revealed gradually The title of the novel refers to the way children in the American south are taught to spell "Mississippi" reason • His mother has had experience of this and tries to warn him off Larry calls.Silas a'nigger in the heat of the moment: he feels shame because he is being defeated in the fight in front of his father ● He instantly regrets saying it, but it destroys their friendship • Silas betrays Cindy: he breaks up with her to save his baseball career • She thought he would save her from her family situation • He lets her run off in the dark without checking to see if she is all right • If he had spoken up, her killer might have been found • Larry has "betrayed a trust between himself and his father" by telling his mother about giving Alice and Silas a ride • His mother gives the two of them coats, but makes it clear that there should be no future contact Something in the small town is 'crooked', i.e. is not right. Everyone believes in Larry's guilt, but they are looking at things the wrong way In a small place, everybody knows each other's business.. • There is no escape for Larry: people will always see him as a killer. He has been ostra cized for twenty-five years • Wallace betrays Larry's friendship. Larry thinks he has found a new friend at last ● • Silas does not confess that he was with Cindy the night she disappeared • Larry took the blame and was ostracized from that day on • He lost his business and lived in isolation • Silas allowed Larry to suffer for years Several of the characters betray each other in the novel. They betray trust, keep secrets or reveal them, sometimes with disastrous consequences • He kills Tina Rutherford to be like his hero' • He tries to destroy Larry too by shooting him • Wallace is only interested in the crimes he thinks Larry has committed • Cindy betrays Larry: she lets him think she really wants to go on a date with him • She uses him because she knows he will not refuse to help her • Carl Ott betrays his wife by sleeping with their maid • He brings shame on Ina by allowing Alice and Silas to live on their land Friendships Larry and Silas ● ● ● ● They enjoy each other's company in the woods: shooting and fishing. Larry teaches Silas about the natural world. . Their friendship ends when Silas thinks Larry is racist like all the other white people. They are half-brothers there is still a connection between them • Because of this, they are able to rekindle their friendship ● ● Larry and Wallace Two outsiders are drawn together Unlikely friendship between a black boy and a white boy -> also between a popular, 'cool' kid and a social misfit Disapproval of their parents -> Carl does not mix with black people; Alice wants Silas to stay away from the Ott family because of how they treated her. They feel a connection -> a shared interest in stories. Larry does not have any other social contacts • Wallace looks up to him -> Larry is a father figure in some ways • What Larry initially sees as friendship is really an unhealthy obsession with his 'crimes' • Larry is wrong to trust Wallace -> it nearly costs him his life Silas and Cindy She is first attracted to him when he stands up for her against her step-father • He notices her watching him at baseball practice ● • They have to keep their relationship secret ● They are in love -> Cindy sees Silas as her ticket out of Chabot • Silas does not see a future for them because of their different races • He would have to sacrifice too much to be with her. ● Reccuring Motifs Snakes ● Symbol of danger • There is a snake in Irina's mailbox ● Larry brings snakes to school the other kids. wants to impress • Larry and Silas catch snakes in the bam Silas leams a lot from Larry • Wallace keeps lots of snakes at his house he sent the snake to Irina's roommate • A snake is found next to Silas's body after Wallace has shot him Guns Larry is found shot, with a gun in his hand, although he is not allowed to own one • As a constable, Silas has a gun but has never used it. Carl has a number of firearms -> normal in that part of the country • Larry lends Silas a rifle and teaches him how to use it • Carl makes the two boys fight for the ownership of the gun Larry receives an anonymous Christmas present -> Wallace wants him to be able to protect him self ->he ends up shooting Larry with it ● Books Larry always has his head in a book -> this makes him a 'Momma's boy in Carl's eyes. He first connects with Silas when he realizes Silas is interested in his book • His house is overflowing with books • Since he has no customers, he spends his days reading • Books have always been a form of escape for Larry Inhalt Chapter 1 • An introduction to Larry Ott Larry is a loner who lives in isolation from the rest of society • He is suspected of having killed a girl •When he returns home one morning, a gunman in a mask is waiting for him and shoots him in the chest Chapter 2 • An introduction to Silas Jones Silas has returned to the small town where he grew up to work as a police • He knew. Larry as a boy but has avoided him since returning to Chabot • It seems that the two of them share a secret • When he hears that Larry is not at work, he is sure something is wrong Chapter 3 • A flashback to Larry's and Silas's first meeting Silas and his mother, Alice, are very poor • It is clear that Larry's parents and Alice have met before Larry is a misfit at school: teased by the white kids and bullied by the black kids • Larry's attempts to be accepted by the white kids fall miserably • Larry and Silas become friendly when they are alone: Larry teaches Silas how to shoot Chapter 4 • Silas and French investigate Larry's house after the attack • Larry has been found, badly hurt but still alive •Silas remembers the day he spent with Larry in his barn • It is hard to say whether Larry was attacked or tried to kill himself Chapter 5 • The friendship between Larry and Silas comes to an end one summer ● • The two boys have to keep their friendship secret. • Larry takes Silas to spy on Cindy Walker. • Silas defends Cindy against her step-father's abusive behavior: a black boy who dares to challenge the actions of a white man • Carl finds out that Larry has lent his rifle to Silas and orders him to get it back ● Chapter 6 Silas makes a surprising discovery while looking through Larry's house Silas looks for more clues at Larry's shop and in his house • He finds a photograph of his mother There is a flashback to Silas and his mother's trip south from Chicago The journey was difficult: most of their possessions were stolen on the way They end up moving into Larry's father's old hunting cabin. • Silas secretly keeps the photo ● He forces Silas and Larry to fight for the gun Larry says something unforgivable to Silas Chapter 7 • The story of what happened on the evening Cindy Walker disappeared Larry is going to take Cindy on a date • His mother is very excited about his first date, and even his father is supportive • Cindy is the one who asked Larry to take her out • Her step-father is violent towards Larry and contemptuous of Cindy ● Cindy reveals the real reason why she asked Larry out • When she does not turn up again, Larry is suspected of having harmed her. ● • Larry's family is destroyed by the accusations . Chapter 8 Silas discovers an unexpected connection between himself and Larry • Silas tells Angie a lot about his personal life, and almost reveals a secret • He goes to see Larry in hospital, but Larry is still unconscious • He visits Larry's mother and tries to tell her what has happened, but, because she has Alzheimer's, she cannot understand him • Silas realizes the truth about who his father was • He comes across Wallace Stringfellow, illegally driving a four-wheeler ● Chapter 9 • Larry makes a new friend, Wallace Stringfellow Larry discovers that a young. boy has been breaking into his barn and scares him away by wearing the zombie mask • Ten years later, the boy, Wallace Stringfellow, starts to visit him • It turns out that Wallace has been fascinated by Larry for many years, Larry. considers Wallace the first friend he has had since Silas • Wallace has an unhealthy obsession with Cindy's disappearance Larry misses Wallace when he stops visiting Chapter 10 • Silas finally admits the truth about his relationship with Cindy Silas has found Tina Rutherford's body Larry; still unconscious in hospital, is suspected of her murder • Silas volunteers to guard his hospital room at night. • Convinced that Larry is innocent, he wants to stop him from confessing. • Silas opens up to Angie about his relationship with Cindy. He has been carrying the guilt about Cindy's disappearance around with him for twenty-five years Larry comes out of his coma ● ● Chapter 11 Larry has woken up in hospital and has to face accusations from the police • At first, Larry does not know what is a dream and what is reality • He discovers that Silas saved his life ● • He reacts violently to the news of how Tina Rutherford died, which makes him seem guilty • The police try to make him confess to the crime Chapter 12 • Silas admits his part in Cindy's disappearance Silas rushes to Larry's bedside. • He admits his part in Cindy's disappearance French questions Silas, but does not want to take the Walker case any further. • Silas tries to apologize to Larry, but Larry does not accept it Drinking alone in a bar, he meets Irina again and finds out that Wallace probably sent the snake to her mailbox Chapter 13 Larry realizes who killed Tina Rutherford and decides to tell French ● • In hospital, Larry has time to think about his past • He remembers that Wallace had come to his house one evening after having done something bad • He puts two and two together and realizes Wallace must have killed Tina Rutherford and shot him. • Larry is no longer prepared to protect his "friends": he does not want to be a victim anymore Chapter 14 Silas goes to Wallace Stringfellow's house to confront him ● • At Larry's house, Silas realizes the driver of the four-wheeler has been back, and wonders if it is the man he stopped on the road • He comes across a run-down house on the catfish farm and realizes he has found Wallace's home • He talks his way into the house, making Wallace nervous. • Wallace sets his dog on Silas, which Silas then has to shoot • Silas has also been shot and is left bleeding on the floor in Wallace's house Chapter 15 ● • Larry tells French about his relationship with Wallace; French now also believes in Larry's innocence • French is unable to visit Larry because he is investigating Silas's shooting • When he finally arrives, Larry gives him evidence of Wallace's guilt ● Larry had originally wanted to tell Silas about his suspicions, but decided not to talk to him after finding out the truth about Cindy Walker Larry wonders if he is in some way to blame for the Rutherford girl's death because he had not read the signals from Wallace correctly Chapter 16 Larry and Silas share a hospital room, giving Silas the opportunity to reveal that they are half-brothers • Silas wakes up in the hospital room to find Larry watching the TV news • The story of the attack and Wallace's death is on the news • Silas tells Larry that they are half-brothers; in a way, Larry has always known • Silas had longed for a father whereas Larry had been miserable growing up with one Larry does not want to remain in the same room as Silas ● Chapter 17 Larry is still refusing to talk to Silas Being popular, Silas has a lot of visitors ● Angie has forgiven Silas for the way he has treated her; she also shows. sympathy and understanding towards Larry • French tells the two men that Larry's name has been cleared • There are lots of television news teams that want to talk to Silas and Larry • Silas leaves hospital; Larry decides not to change rooms ● Chapter 18 • Silas starts trying to make amends for the way he has treated Larry • The only interview Silas will give is to the local police reporter, who he has been avoiding • The mayor wants Silas to take on more real police work ● Larry is still refusing to talk to him • Silas and Angie clean Larry's house, and Silas returns the rifle Chapter 19 • Silas and Larry make the first steps towards rekindling their friendship Larry enjoys Silas's visits but does not feel the need to speak to him • One night he gets up and walks out of the hospital • The hospital volunteer notices and calls Silas, who goes to look for him ● Silas finds Larry walking along the road and drives him home • Larry tells Silas to bring his Jeep over the next day so that he can repair it