58 pages 1 hour read

Dave Pelzer

A Child Called It: One Child’s Courage to Survive

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1995

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Chapters 1-3

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary: “The Rescue”

It is March 5, 1973, in Daly City, California. Dave Pelzer is fifth grader who is struggling to hide his mother’s physical, mental, and emotional abuse from school officials at Thomas Edison Elementary School. Over time, the school nurse has noted several injuries, including Dave’s chipped teeth from when his mother slammed his head on a tile countertop and a scar on his stomach from when she stabbed him. In the beginning of the chapter, Pelzer describes how his mother withheld food as punishment. He remembers that his mother was once beautiful with luxurious hair, but she is now overweight and unkempt.

On the morning of March 5, Dave’s mother punishes him for taking his hands out of the scalding water she has instructed him to keep them in. He recalls ostensibly complying with her abuse but not letting her “take away my will to somehow survive” (13). On the way to school, Dave’s mother orders him to tell his teachers that his injuries came from an accidental fall. When Dave gets to school, his homeroom teachers, the school principal, and the nurse have already gathered. After an emotional goodbye with his teachers, Dave is put in the care of a San Mateo County policeman, who calls Dave’s mother and tells her Dave will not be coming home.