Mr. Was

  • GENRE

    Science-Fiction and Fantasy

     

     

    THEMES

    • Loss of Innocence-a period in a child's life that widens their awareness of evil, pain and suffering.

     

    • The Journey-the main character travels lead him to encounter many obstacles that change him significantly.

     

    SETTING

    A time travel story

    Multiple Places and Times

    Majority of the story takes place at Bogg's End in Memory, Minnesota on Lake Pepin

     

    BOGG'S END

    Bogg's End is a huge, old house built in the 1800's on a bluff above Lake Pepin

    Oringinally built by Pinky Boggs for his family.

    The Boggs Family "disappeared" in 1927

     

    Jack's grandparents bought Bogg's End in the late 1940's

    Jack's mother lived in Bogg's End from 1952-1970's

    Jack's Grandma Skoro "disappeared" from Bogg's End in 1981

    Jack and his mother, Betty, return to Bogg's End in the 1990's

    Jack Lund "disappears" from Bogg's end in the 1990's

     

     

    CAST OF CHARACTERS

    Narrator
    Jack Lund, (aka Mr. Was)

    a teenager living with an alcoholic father. A good day for Jack is when his father is too drunk to beat his mother. After witnessing his mother's death, Jack runs away from Bogg's End using a secret, time-travel door. He flees 50 years into the past to the 1940's in Memory, Minnesota. Jack plans to live through the past and grow up and prevent his mother's murder.


    Other main characters

    Grandpa Skoro

    a bitter and cruel old man. He is wealthy. He dies at the beginning of the story. His death brings Jack and his family to Bogg's End in Memory, Minnesota

    Grandma Skoro

    disappeared in 1981, two years after Jack was born. Grandpa Skoro became even meaner after she disappears.
    Elizabeth (Betty) Lund

    Jack's mother, she is abused by her alcoholic husband and ignored by her father.
    Ronald (Ron) Lund

    Jack's father. He is an alcoholic. He is a good husband and father when he is sober. He is cruel and violent when he is drinking.

    Old Man Murphy

    A farmer in Memory. Jack lives and works on his farm in the 1940's.

    Andie Murphy

    Old Man Murphy's daughter. Jack has a crush on her. She is kind and fun with beautiful red hair and green eyes.

    Franklin (Scud) Scudder

    Jack's friend in the 1940's. He is a hustler and a scam artist. He is in love with Andie and very jealous and possesive. Jack and Scud serve together during WWII on Gaudalcanal in the Pacific Ocean. 

    Pincus Q. (Pinky) Boggs

    A very wealthy man that built Bogg's End in the 1800's. He installed the time travel door, but regrets that he ever built the door.

     

    TOPICS


    · Family (dysfunctional) 
    · Time Travel 
    · Alcoholism 
    · Fate and Destiny 
    · Spousal Abuse 
    · Love, Friendship, and Loyalty

     

    Author's Note

    Pete Hautman explains how and why he wrote the novel.

    He states "Jack Lund's story" was discovered in 1952 in an aluminum briefcase that contained 4 notebooks.

    Pete researched and investigated Jack's story and Pete Hautman is "convinced the events described in Jack's notebooks actually occured".

     

    The First Notebook “The Door”

    Written by an older man  Dated 1952

    Tells the story of Jack Lund’s life from 1993-1996 in Memory, Minnesota

    Jack is 13-17 years old

    Jack time travels to 1941

    The notebook ends on December 7, 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor

     

    The Second Notebook       “The Canal”

    • Dated: July 30, 1942-September 10,  1942
    • 6 weeks  of Jack’s life as a soldier during WWII
    • The notebook was found during WWII on Guadalcanal in a cave next to a dead body and a machine gun
    • The notebook was found by a Japanese soldier
    • The Japanese soldier kept the notebook as a souvenir of the war for 39 years
    • Inside Cover it is written: Jack Lund       Bogg’s End    Memory, Minnesota
    • The Japanese soldier goes to Bogg’s End with his wife 39 in 1981
    • The notebook is given to “an older woman with bright green eyes”  living at Bogg’s End in 1981

     

    This chapter is called “The Canal” because Jack is a Marine fighting on Guadalcanal during WWII.

    The notebook was found by a Japanese soldier on Guadalcanal during WWII

    Letters from Jack to Andie

    A secret is revealed, Jack and Andie are developing feeling for each other

    Scud tries to kill Jack

    Jack and a dead soldier are left in a cave with a machine gun and the Japanese are attacking.

     

    MEETING MY GRANDFATHER pages 6-11

    It is February 17, 1993 in Skokie, Illinois where a 13 year old Jack Lund lives with his mother and father.

     

    Jack's mother gets a phone call at midnight that her father, "Skoro", is in the hospital dying.

    The reader learns that Jack's father drinks a lot of beer and hates Skoro.

    The reader learns "Your grandfather is a cheap, mean, hard-hearted old miser" (7).

    Jack states "My grandmother had disappeared about twoyears after I was born. some people say she left on her own, other believed something terrible happened to her. It was a long time ago. My dad said she was probably dead. My mother didn't like to talk about it" (9).

     

    Jack and his mother drive through the night to the hospital.

     

    Jack sees grandfather Skoro for the first time in years. Skoro has a long, pink scar running along his jaw line.

     

    His grandfather tries to strangle Jack to death.

    " 'You!" I don't remember how he got his hands around my neck, but I remember not being able to breathe, his thumbs sinking deep into my neck...his wet lips writhing, saying, 'Kill you. Kill you. Kill you again' " (11).

     

    Skoro has a heart attack and "The monitor displayed a flat green line, howling its mechanical grief" (11).

     

    MEMORY pages 12-18

     

     Jack and his mother drive to Memory, Minnesota. A dying, delapitated town on Lake Pepin, population 40.

    When Jack sees the welcome sign for Memory he sarcastically says, "I suppose now they'll have to make it thirty-nine" (12).

     

    Jack learns:

    In the 1940's Memory was a vital town with 1,000 residents, a rail station, a bank and insurance company that tourists visited because of Lake Pepin.

    When Jack's mother was a girl about 300 people living in Memory.

     

    In the 1990's all the businesses are abandoned and boarded up. There is not even a bank or gas station.

    The old rail station in now called "The Memory Institute" a kind of museum for the town.

    The only businesses in town are a post office and Ole's Quick Stop "a sort of grocery store/video rental/bar/cafe/bait shop".

     

    When Jack is playing pinball at Ole's, he learns:

    His grandfather lived at Bogg's End, a huge, old, scary house on the river bluff above Memory.

    Jack states, "The longer I looked at that house, the more it looked to me like a big gray toad" (18).

    Bogg's End is named after old man Boggs who built the place, lived there with his wife and two daughters, but disappeared in 1927.

    Skoro bought Bogg's End in the forties.

    His grandmother disappeared from Bogg's End in 1981.

     

    BOGG'S END pages 19-24


    Jack and his mother drive to Skoro's house to spend the night.

    When Jack call's the house Bogg's End, his mother  says, "Don't call it that. I hate that" (20).

     

    The house has 6 bedrooms, each a different color.

    Jack chooses to sleep in the yellow room, "because it was the farthest away from Skoro's bedroom" and learns from his mother, "That was my room when I was a little girl" (22-23).

     

    During the night Jack wakes up and goes to the closet. He finds "the oddly-shaped door at the far end of the closet...The knob, a tarnished brass with an ornate raised design, was located higher than you would expect. I had a sense of dejavu, a feeling that I'd been there before, and that I had opended the door" (23).

     

    Jack tries to open the door but hits something sold and invisible. He hits the surface with his fists and WAKES UP.

    He steps back into the bedroom and assumes he has been sleepwalking for the first time in his life.

    When Jack looks back in the closet he "examined both ends of the closet. Walls, plain and unadorned. There was no door" (24).


     THE FUNERAL pages 25-33


    Jack's father arrives at Bogg's End for the funeral. He is in a good mood and has "a case of beer in a cooler. Or anyway, what was lefty of a case a beer. He'd managed to drink a lot of it on the drive up from Skokie" (25).

     

    Jack's father seems excited about the inheritance he is expecting to receive now the Granpa Skoro is dead.

     

    Jack's parents meet with Skoro's lawyer.

    They find out that Skoro left all his money to The Memory Institute. (2 million dollars).

    "Your grandfather screwed us again. He left every last dimt to some dump called the Memory Institute" (28).

    Skoro left the house and its contents to his daughter.

    There is tension between Jack's parents.

    "watched her make dinner. Porl chops, Dad's favorite, with rice and lima beans, which he hated. Mom would do that sort of thing, and I never understood it. It was as if she played with his anger, like she wanted things to be bad. Everybody thinks their parents are screwed up, but mine should've won some kind of prize" (29).

     

    Jack explores Bogg's End and realizes Skoro did not have a TV or a radio.

    Skoro's library is filled with books about the stock market and World War II.

    Skoro does have a PC. When Jack and his father try to see what is on his grandfather's computer a mysterious message appears, What goes around comes around.

    The computer catches on fire and dies.

     

    At Skoro's funeral hears someone mumbling What goes around comes around, but when he turns to look there is no one sitting behind him.

    "I turned around to look at him. There was no one sitting behind me. The pew was empty. But I could still hear the words, echoing in my brain: what goes around comes around what goes around comes around what goes" (33).

     

    THE METAL DOOR pages 34-41


    After the funeral Jack's father explores Bogg's End, basically taking an inventory of what they can sell for money.

    Jack and his father discover the third floor of the house is filled with junk and old furniture.

     

    Jack's parents discuss and old man they saw at the funeral.

    "I thought that one old guy was going to die right in the chapel. You see him? With the patch on his eye?...He looked like he'd been in an accident...He looked like his face met up with a lawn mower is what he looked like" (36).

    Jack did not SEE this man.

     

    Later that night, Jack's parents are arguing again, so Jack goes the third floor of Bogg's end to escape their yelling.

    Jack explores the third floor and finds the door from his dreams in a closet.

    “The door was right in front of me…I felt for the knob…Feeling its surface, I discovered a board had been nailed across it. Someone, sometime, had not wanted this door to be found, or to be used” (40).

     

    Jack opens the door and walks down a darkened staircase.

    Jack ends up outside of Bogg's End, but it is no longer a cold winter, it is a beautiful moonlit night in the summer and the house is surrounded by weeds and looks abandoned.

    “It was Bogg’s End all right, but it had changed. The paint was flaking off the sides, the windows, were boarded up, the grounds were overgrown with weeds, and I knew, without knowing how I knew, that no one was home” (41).

     

    SCUD AND ANDIE pages 42-47

    Jack is very confused. He wonders if he has somehow traveled to the future.

    "Had I stepped into the future? If so, how many years had passed?" (42)

    " I also wanted to know where--or when I was" (43).

     

    Jack explores and walks down the driveway of Bogg's End and meets a boy about his age.

    Jack learns from the boy that no one has lived at Bogg's End since the Bogges disappeared.

    The boy asks Jack, "I bet you run away from someplace, didn't you? I ran away a couple of times. One time I got all the way to Minneapolis. Where'd you run away from?" (42).

     

    Jack meets a boy and girl named Scud and Andie.

    The three of them sneak into a apple orchard to steal apples.

    Scud plays a trick on Jack and he gets chased by a dog.

    Jack loses Scud and Andie as he is running from the dog. He is very angry. He looks for Scud and Andie, but returns to Bogg's End before he finds them.

     

    Jack spent about an hour with Scud and Andie and misplaced the real world in his mind.

    "I hadn't thought at all about Bogg's End, or the door, or the fact that in the real world--if that's what it was--snow lay three feet deep over the land. I'd forgotten all of that. Actually, it wasn't so much that I'd forgotten, it was that I had somehow misplaced it in my mind" (47).

     

     He is worried about the door working in both directions.

    "I wanted to go back. But would the door work in both directions? Would passing back through that doorway return me to the Memory I remembered?" (47).

     

    SOME OF THE WORST DAYS OF MY LIFE pages 48-54

    Jack returns to Bogg's End and goes to sleep.

    The next morning he is sure that the door and the stairs and his time with Andie and Scud were real.

    He is sure that it was real because he has found an apple on his nightstand.

    "The door worked both ways...I asked myself, Is it real? ...An apple, red streaked with gold, perched on the nightstand. I picked it up, felt its roundness, took a bite. Sweet, tart juices flooded my mouth. It had been real, all right" (48).

     

    Jack's parents have had another fight and his mother has a big bruise on her cheek.

     

    Jack goes outside to look for the door before he leaves.

    "There was definitely no door. Instead, its squat shape was defined by a patch of siding that did not quite match the original clapboard" (49).

     

    Jack's family returns to Skokie and his father has a terrible car accident. This causes his father to go to AA and for the first time life is good for the family.

    "We had two good years. Sometimes I sit and try to figure out which was the best dayof my life. I haven't had a lot of good ones, but some of the best must have been those years in Skokie when Dad was staying sober" (51).

     

    Jack's mother gets a job so she can pay the taxes on Bogg's End.

    The family does not discuss the house, but every couple of months Jack's mom takes a ride to Bogg's End  to check on the house.

    Jack puts Bogg's End out of his mind.

    "I thought about the dorr at times, but as the months and years passed the memories seemed more like a dream. Bogg's End coud rot away, and that was fine with me. I never wanted to see the place again" (51).

     

    In April 1995, when Jack is in 10th grade (2 years after Grandpa's Skoro's funeral) Jack's father starts drinking again.

    Several months later, Jack's father has lost his job and his parents argue about Bogg's End.

    This time Jack's father hits his mother and Jack. They both end up bruised and bloody on the kitchen floor.

    "Maybe that was the worst day of my life. So far" (54).

     

    GOING BACK TO BOGG'S END pages 55-59

    Jack and his mother are taken to the hospital and his father goes to jail.

    While Jack's father is in jail, his mother packs up and tells Jack "We're going to Memory" (page 55).

     

    Jack and his mother move into Bogg's End at the end of July, a few days before his 16th birthday.

    Jack does not want to live there, but his mother does not care she just wants to get away from her husband.

    There are no kids in Memory who are Jack's age, but he does get to know his mother better and learn about his grandparents from her.

     

    About Betty's father:

    "Daddy was rich, so all the kids wanted to be friends with me...The stock market. He alwasy seemed to know which companies were ging to do well, and he invested in them...he never worked a day in his life. I think people though he was some sort of criminal. But people liked my mother" (56).

     

    About Betty's mother:

    "Feisty, nobody pushed her around...Daddy tried to push her around, but she wouldn't have it...I should have been more like her...I think she might have just plain run off. I think she must have died somehow, because why else would I never hear from her?" (57).

     

    Jack does not think about the door. He pushes the memories away.

    "The fact is I was scared. I was scared it had been real, and I was scared that maybe it had not" (58).

     

    Jack and his mother talk about silly dreams, but she asks Jack if he has "ever dreamed about doors. I could feel all the little hairs on my neck go straight up. 'What do you mean?' I said. 'Oh I don't know...it's just...I used to dream about door when I was your age...I remember one dream, it was so vivid I thought it was real. One summer, I was about eight years old...I went through a door in one of the closets upstairs...A few days later, Daddy made me show him the door I'd gone through. I took him to the closet and we looked in and there was no door where I remembered. There was nothing but a wall" (59).

     

    That afternoon Jack's mother, Betty, goes to Lake City to look for a job.

    Jack makes a peanut butter sandwich, wraps it up in a newspaper and "climbed the stairs to the third floor, feeling a little foolish, still half convinced that the door had been nothing but a dream" (59).