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 4-6

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 4 Summary: “The Fight for Food”

Dave Pelzer describes his struggles scavenging for sustenance in his own home. His mother would “forget” to feed him breakfast or dinner (43). Young Dave begins dreaming of hamburgers that he can visualize but never fully taste. He resorts to stealing food at school. However, his classmates notice, which leads to them making fun of Dave and despising him. The school principal reports these incidents of food theft to his mother, which results in “more beatings and less food for me at the house” (44). At home, Dave’s mother further separates him from the rest of the family. Dave is barred from looking at or speaking to his family. When Dave finishes his chores in the afternoon, he is sent straight to the basement, where Catherine instructs him to stand still until the family has finished dinner. Upon them finishing dinner, she then summons him to clean the dishes. Stephen’s small attempts to help Dave, such as sneaking him scraps of food, cause further riffs between Dave’s parents. Dave describes loud “midnight arguments” (45). He notes that his father begins to pack an overnight bag before he leaves for work.

As Dave enters second grade, Catherine becomes pregnant with her fourth child, Russell.