Study Guide

The Great Brain Chapter 6

By John D. Fitzgerald

Chapter 6

A Wreath for Abie

  • We'll say this first: This is an odd chapter. In a book about the mostly harmless exploits of three kids, the chapter where an entire town lets an old man starve to death through inattention is a real downer.
  • It's a record hot August, and Lady gives birth to her puppies.
  • Meanwhile, Abie Glassman is seen to faint three times. He's also rumored to have a strongbox full of gold pieces.
  • Finally, Abie's store is closed for several days, prompting Mamma and Papa to realize something's not right and call Uncle Mark, the deputy sheriff.
  • Uncle Mark breaks into the store, where they find Abie nearly unconscious on his bed. Dr. LeRoy declares that he's dying of malnutrition.
  • Mamma has them take Abie back to their house, but as soon as she gets him into bed and gives him a spoonful of broth, he dies in her arms.
  • Unsure what to do for a Jewish man, the town turns out for Abie's funeral and reads the Christian burial service over him.
  • Later, Papa, Mamma, and Uncle Mark discuss the fact that no one paid attention to Abie's declining state because he was Jewish and they assumed Jews could look after themselves.
  • They conclude that everyone in town is guilty of Abie's death.
  • Tom reveals to J.D. that he knew the strongbox was empty, and J.D. says Tom will be blamed for Abie's death since he knew the truth.
  • Tom says all he knew was that Abie wasn't rich, and it's actually the fault of people like J.D., who went to the Z.C.M.I. store, instead of to Abie's store, just to get the penny candy. He swears J.D. to silence.