38 pages 1 hour read

Dennis Covington

Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1995

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Chapters 2-3

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 2 Summary: “The Trial”

Covington’s interest in the Summerfords’ case stems from a piece he is writing for The New York Times. He goes into great detail about the trial of Glenn Summerford, choosing to focus on Darlene Summerford’s eyewitness testimony from the night he allegedly attempted to kill her. In the court house, Covington points out that the hill people from Scottsboro stand out in their appearance amongst the crowd for their rangy, impoverished manner. The prosecution argues that Glenn had been under the influence of alcohol and that he tried to kill Darlene in a fit of jealousy, while the defense argues that both had been drinking and Darlene had chosen to put her hand in the box of rattlesnakes. Both attorneys seem to want to distance themselves from the Summerfords, with Glenn’s own attorney calling them a “dysfunctional family” (42), despite the fact that Darlene has gotten a job and moved into her own home while maintaining a safe pregnancy at the time of the trial. Covington recognizes that his own fixation on the snake handlers began at the trial, with his desire to understand their lifestyle and motivations.