The novel Bless the Beasts and Children takes place during the 1960s at a summer camp in Prescott, Arizona. The Bedwetters (Cotton, Teft, Lally 1 and 2, Goodenow, and Shecker) later travel to Flagstaff, Arizona where the reserve is located to free the buffalo from a state-sponsored shooting. Each of these boys struggle with their own personal conflicts, as a result of their miserable childhoods, and fight to overcome them throughout the novel.
SETTING / EXPOSITION
After witnessing the buffalo shooting the boys escape camp to rescue them.
"Bag a car, bring it back. Maybe that's the only way, though" (Swarthout 34).
"I'll get us wheels [...] for a few hours and bring it back and leave some coin in it. For gas and mileage" (Swarthout 33).
"Two bulls led the breakout. Beyond the fence, pivoting at the last possible instant, at the verge of the rim, they split the herd. Half to the right, half to the left, it skedaddled off into the wide open spaces of the United States where it belonged" (Swarthout 191).
"They had a last glimpse of John Cotton's red flaming hair like a torch as the truck seemed to soar and dive and disappear. [...] and all of them in tears. Lawrence Teft, III, and Samuel Shecker and Gerald Goodenow and Stephen Lally, Jr., and William Lally were bunched up bawling in their sorrow and jeering in their triumph" (Swarthout 192).
Despite the loss of their friend, the Bedwetters were ultimately ablw to overcome the obstacles that they were onced faced with. For example, Lally Two who had grown to be a dependent and intimidated young boy, had gained confidence within himself and had freed himself of the foam pillow he always carried around. Like Lally Two, each of the Bedwetters showed individual growth by the novel's end.
"I'm proud of us. We said we'd finish and we are. That herd's gonna bust out and so're we. Now. For good" (Swarthout 190).