State of Wonder Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Ann Patchett

State of Wonder

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State of Wonder Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Part One: Minneapolis, Minnesota

Chapter 1

The novel begins at the Vogel Medical Research Campus in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with the news of Dr. Anders Eckman’s death. This news is delivered in the form of a cryptic Aerogram sent by Dr. Annick Swenson, the Vogel Corporations’ lead scientist on a research mission in the Amazon Rainforest of Brazil. Eckman’s colleagues, including fellow pharmacologist and former lab partner, Dr. Marina Singh, and her boss and covert lover, Vogel CEO Jim Fox, struggle to make sense of the ambiguous phrasing of Dr. Swenson’s letter and the mysterious circumstances of Anders’s death.  The letter simply states that he died of a fever and was given a proper Christian burial.

Adding to the mystery and intrigue, Anders was originally sent to the Amazon not only to discover the secret location of Dr. Swenson’s research station, but to gather intelligence about the progress of her fertility drug, and to encourage Dr. Swenson to hasten that progress. Dr. Swenson, a world class scientist, whose Amazonian research and development station is funded by the Vogel Corporation, has for some time, cut off all direct contact with the company, refusing to disclose the location of her rainforest station, and the development of a drug that would potentially extend the reproductive age of women well past the traditional limits imposed by age and menopause.

Still troubled by the news of Anders’ death, Marina accompanies Mr. Fox to Anders’ suburban home, where they personally deliver the news of Anders’ death to his wife, Karen.

Karen, a mother of three, is overwhelmed, not only by the news of her husband’s death, but by the mysterious circumstances surrounding it. Initially in a state of shock and disbelief, she implores them to get Anders “out of there” and to bring him home. She collapses on the floor in grief, and after contacting Karen’s family and a neighbor to collect her children, Marina and Mr. Fox leave the Eckman home shaken by the encounter.

Later, at a restaurant in St. Paul, Mr. Fox expresses his remorse for having sent Anders to the Amazon. From all accounts, Anders was a sheltered,…

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