A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of A Spool of Blue Thread

Plot Summary Part 3

Abby spied Red and got sexually aroused watching him count the rings on a tree stump.  Abby "felt buoyed by a kind of airiness at her center"--yep, that's sexual arousal all right!

Why did watching Red count rings on a tree stump arouse her? Well, it was after a hard day's work and after Red had argued with a neighbor. Abby figured if Red could put up with all that and still be calm enough to study a tree stump, he was just the right kind of guy for her. This is what passes for characterization in Anne Tyler's book--random, inconsequential thoughts of characters that are supposed to have meaning.

We get another flashback, to the time when Junior and Linnie Mae moved into their new house. Junior had scared the previous owners of the house into selling it to him after he had left a rope on the floor of their home. Why this would scare someone to sell their home is a complete mystery.

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But the focus of the story is on the time when Junior and Linnie Mae were on the verge of moving in, and they had the "big swing fight".

There was a swing in front of the house. Linnie Mae wanted it blue. Junior wanted it another color.

Linnie Mae had it painted blue. Junior was enraged. He had the blue coloring stripped off and had it repainted. Linnie Mae got angry and painted some steps in front of the house blue. Junior got enraged again. It doesn't sound like much, but they spent pages and pages and pages talking about the great swing color fight as if this were the most important thing in their life. Anyway, this fight showed that they were both obstinate.

We jump to yet another flashback, this time to the period when Junior met Linnie Mae. He was so quick to bone her that he didn't realize she was only 13 years old. She had enormous breasts like a cow so he thought that he was boning an older model. When he found out she was 13 he was shocked and wanted nothing more to do with her. But she lured him to her home and started to copulate with him in their barn, like the farm animals did.

Unfortunately Mr. Linnie Mae chose this moment to make an appearance.  He encouraged Junior to leave at gunpoint, even though Junior was nude. Junior packed up and left town. But when Linnie Mae turned 18, she tracked him down.

She found him living at a single-sex boarding house and the first thing she did was get him kicked out of it, when the landlady discovered he had a girlfriend coming there. Linnie Mae purposely let the landlady know that she was his girlfriend so he would be kicked out so he would have to find a new place to live where she could live with him.

Linnie Mae in fact found a new place to live that would accept both of them together, telling the new landlord that they were husband and wife, another part of her plan to get Junior used to the idea.

Junior didn't want any part of her, at first. He was enraged that Linnie Mae had put him in the position of leaving her Dad's house completely naked and being run out of town.

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