In Watermelon Sugar Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of In Watermelon Sugar

This book is a dreamy representation of a group of people who live, love, work and die in and around a commune called iDEATH. The narrator, who never gives us his name, tells stories about the comings and goings of the residents of iDEATH in the years after the tigers came and killed and ate many of the residents of the commune, including the narrator's parents. The history of iDEATH is built up slowly throughout the narrative. The colors of the watermelon and the sun change at iDEATH every day-- gold, red, gray, etc. Much of the story focuses on a woman named Margaret, who was once the narrator's lover. He is with a new woman now, named Pauline, who seems to be everything Margaret is not, especially: a devout member of iDEATH. Margaret spends much of her time at a trash pile called the "Forgotten Works" and becomes friendly with a man called inBOIL, who left iDEATH some time ago and now makes whiskey at the Forgotten Works. This causes problems for Margaret, including the end of her relationship with the narrator.
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inBOIL and his gang eventually return to the commune and promise to show the residents what iDEATH "really is". Some residents take this as threatening, and Margaret is looked upon suspiciously for her lack of fear. When inBOIL and his men come, they cut off their body parts with knives, one by one: first a thumb, then a nose, then their ears. They bleed to death. Margaret hangs herself soon after, due to a broken heart (according to her brother). The story ends while the people of the town are waiting to hear musicians play after Margaret's funeral.
Best part of story, including ending: The beautiful poetry of the language and strange setting are unlike any other book.

Best scene in story: The scene where the narrator is in his shack and he hears Margaret coming across the bridge. He knows it is her because she always steps on the one plank that makes noise. It's a beautifully simple scene, where the actions and descriptions work to make the narrator's feelings so clear.

Opinion about the main character: The narrator (who has no name) seems to be very observant about some things, but completely oblivious to others. I'm not sure if I like or dislike him for that, but it does make for an interesting reading.

The review of this Book prepared by Robin Silver a Level 1 Blue Jay scholar

Chapter Analysis of In Watermelon Sugar

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   very sensitive (sigh) Time/era of story    -   1960's-1970's Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Religion theme?    -   Yes Religion theme:    -   Cult! (time for the coolaid!)

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   writer Age:    -   long lived adults Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American) Unusual characteristics:    -   Super sensitive soggy jelly muffin


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   7 () Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only Amount of dialog    -   little dialog

Books with storylines, themes & endings like In Watermelon Sugar

Richard Brautigan Books Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).
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