Black Swan Green Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

David Mitchell

Black Swan Green

  • 26-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 13 chapter summaries and 6 sections of expert analysis
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Black Swan Green Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

Chapter One Summary: January Man

The novel begins with the ringing of the phone in Jason Taylor’s father’s office – a world Jason is forbidden to enter. When Jason answers the phone, he hears breathing on the other end, as well as a baby crying, before the caller hangs up.
Jason’s friend Moron (Dean Moran) comes over and invites Jason out to play on the frozen lake. Other boys are out there already, popular boys who Jason idolizes. One of the things keeping Jason from being accepted socially is his stammering problem, which he has named “Hangman”. It’s Hangman who stops Jason from saying words like “nothing” and “sure”. Also, Jason has secretly been publishing poems in the parish magazine under the name Eliot Bolivar. Admitting such a fact would surely have him pegged as “gay” and would be a form of certain social suicide.

A large group of boys plus Dawn Madden (who Jason says might as well be a boy) gather on the ice and teams are chosen for a game of British Bulldogs. Jason is relieved not to be chosen dead last and plays strategically, making it home. In the second round, he’s brought down when three boys from the opposite team tackle him.

Some older boys, including Tom Yew, a sailor in the Royal Navy, arrive on a snowmobile. The game is forgotten in favor of gathering around the older kids, who chat about the best movie they’ve seen and the worst ways to die. Jason, having to pee, heads into the woods and ends up following a path he hasn’t taken before. He’s peeing against a fence when an old woman (Jason refers to her as a “sour aunt”) comes out of the house in the woods. Her speech does not seem to make sense– she is scolding him for making noise, talking about a brother who’s no longer there, and referencing Ralph Bredon, a name Jason doesn’t know. Uncomfortable, Jason leaves.

Later that day, Jason sits down for dinner with his family – his mom, dad, and his 18-year-old sister Julia who refers to Jason as “Thing.” Jason’s…

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