The Cross and The Switchblade Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Cross and The Switchblade

In 1958, a small town Pennsylvania church pastor is emotionally moved as he reads a copy of LIFE magazine that features details of the upcoming trial of 7 teenaged members from the Coney Island (New York) based 'Egyptian Dragons' street gang. The 7 boys had brutally attacked and murdered an innocent 15 year old polio victim named Michael Farmer in Highbridge Park, leading to one of the most publicized gang murder trials of 1950's New York.
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Wilkerson traces his own humble beginnings, to his early years of pastoral ministry prior to his first visit to New York city. After being unable to secure visitation rights to visit the 'Dragon' gang members in jail, Wilkerson is detained while attempting to rush past security and police to gain an audience with the judge on the case. The press photographed the skinny preacher being physically detained by court officers, and by the next day the picture would make the front page of more than one New York daily. The result - David Wilkerson became accepted by New Yorks' toughest and most blood thirsty street gangs as the preacher who was arrested for trying to help other gang members.

Wilkerson resigns as a church pastor, and begins to reach out to the toughest street gangs in New York. After finding respect and acceptance by thousands of inner city youth, Wilkerson branches out and eventually begins Teen Challenge, an outreach program for drug addicts, alcoholics, ex-gang members, pregnant girls, and others in need that now spans the globe. Wilkerson stands face to face with New Yorks' murderers, heroin addicts, and the worst of criminals in his quest to bring hope to the inner cities.   
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Chapter Analysis of The Cross and The Switchblade

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Plot & Themes

job/profession:    -   religious figure Gender/Class story?    -   story of lower class Job/profession/poverty story    -   Yes If this is a culture clash:    -   visiting a different culture Ethnic/regional/gender    -   Yes Period of greatest activity?    -   1950+

Subject of Biography

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   religious figure Ethnicity    -   White Nationality    -   American


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   8 () United States    -   Yes The US:    -   Northeast City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York Small town?    -   Yes Small town people:    -   nice, like Andy/Opie/Aunt Bee Misc setting    -   sewers/subways Century:    -   1930's-1950's

Writing Style

Book makes you feel?    -   spiritual    -   like laughing Graphic sex in book?    -   Yes How much dialogue in bio?    -   roughly even amounts of descript and dialog How much of bio focuses on most famous period of life?    -   76%-100% of book

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