88 pages 2 hours read

Richard Powers

The Overstory

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

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Chapters 1-5

Reading Check

1. chestnut tree seeds

2. carbon monoxide poisoning

3. His father wants to ensure that at least one branch of the family escapes the Communist Revolution.

4. three jade rings (each depicting a different and symbolically significant tree) and a Buddhist scroll

5. The Ape Inside Us

6. Dorothy is a stenographer at a company that contracts with the legal firm where Ray works.

7. intellectual property rights


1. D. The prologue depicts trees “speaking” to an unnamed woman, telling her that humans are conscious of only a fraction of what goes on around them (and of its significance). This evokes the figurative meaning of “overstory”—a superficial sequence of events that conceals deeper meanings and connections.

2. C. John Hoel (the son of Jørgen Hoel) buys a camera and begins photographing the tree each month; his son (Frank) and grandson (Frank Jr.) carry on the tradition with varying degrees of willingness.

3. A. Winston speaks to the bear in Chinese, distracting it until he can toss some pistachios for it to eat. It is one of the only times (if not the only time) Mimi hears her father speak Chinese.

4. B. Winston’s prized mulberry begins dying around the same time his wife Charlotte begins slipping deeper into dementia—two factors that contribute to his suicide.