Study Guide

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge Mortality

By Michael Punke

Mortality

Chapter 2: August 23, 1823

"He was the oldest. When we left Kentucky, our folks told him to look after me. Didn't say a word to me. Wouldn't have occurred to them." (1.2.7)

Although the Rocky Mountain Fur Company is full of tough, rough-and-tumble men, they're as afraid of death as the rest of us. What's more, this quote from William Anderson shows that things are even worse when the person who dies is someone who you love.

Chapter 3: August 24, 1823

Harris had no idea where to begin, and was almost relieved that the throat wounds appeared so obviously mortal. (1.3.29)

Glass is in such rough shape after the bear attack that death seems like it'd be the easier option. As we'll come to see, however, things are going to be a bit more complicated than that.

In the hierarchy of challenges the trappers faced each day, obtaining food [...] involved a complicated balancing of benefits and risks. (1.3.3)

Even hunting is risky here. After all, a gunshot can be heard for a pretty long distance, and you never know who's going to be around the next bend. Could be a group of Arikara warriors. Could be a bear. Might as well be the Grim Reaper itself, if you ask us.

Chapter 4: August 28, 1823

"How long do you figure we can parade through this valley before we stumble on some hunting party? Glass ain't the only man in this brigade." (1.4.13)

Captain Henry's decision to lug Glass along in a stretcher is met with some resistance from the men. It's pretty understandable, too—why would they risk their lives for a man who's clearly already dying? We don't envy Henry here one bit.

Chapter 9: September 8, 1823

[T]hey had killed him. [...] Murdered him, except he would not die. Would not die, he vowed, because he would live to kill his killers. (1.9.40)

Besides sounding like lyrics from the greatest death metal single never written, this quote makes Glass seem like a vengeful ghost, risen from the grave to finish up some earthly business. As we'll see, this metaphor gets used a few times throughout the novel.

The stalk looked like wild onion, but Glass knew better. It was Death Camas. Is it Providence? Has this been placed here for me? (1.9.36)

Death Camas, by the way, is a plant that looks edible but is in fact poisonous. Seriously, the name should have clued you in on that one. As we can see here, however, Glass's situation has become so desperate that he's about ready to throw in the towel.

Chapter 13: October 5, 1823

The notion of burial had always struck him as stifling and cold. He liked the Indian way better, setting the bodies up high, as if passing them to the heavens. (1.13.20)

Like the Pawnee Indians he spent a year befriending, Glass prefers the symbolic release of a funeral pyre to the symbolic constraint of a buried grave. Makes sense. In this light, Captain Henry's insistence that the men dig a grave for Glass before he dies takes on a slightly darker tinge.

Chapter 17: December 5, 1823

"I won't let them cut us up. [...] Don't worry, little brother," he whispered, leaning back into the current's welcoming arms. "It's all downstream from here." (2.17.58)

The Cattoire brothers' death scene is pretty gutting. First, it reveals the tight bond between the bros that's sometimes obscured by their hammy insults and arguments. But Dominique's fear of the Arikara mutilating their bodies after death reveals something far more frightening.

Chapter 21: December 31, 1823

Jim Bridger stared in horror at the specter. Driven snow was plastered against every surface of its body, encasing it in frozen white. (2.21.76)

If Glass is a ghost, then you can bet your butt he ain't a friendly one. And that goes double if your name is Jim Bridger. It's also worth mentioning that this image echoes Bridger's dream from earlier in the novel, which gives us the impression that he knew, on some level, that Glass was still alive.

Chapter 24: March 7, 1824

What story connected the dainty trinket to Pig? [...] They would never know, and the finality of the mystery filled Glass with melancholy thought of his own souvenirs. (2.24.26)

In a novel filled with firefights, bear attacks, and high-speed boat getaways (okay, that last one is a stretch), it's the quiet moments that hit us the hardest. Pig had been a back-up character for most of the story, a bit of comic relief, and we don't get this tiny glimpse into his life until he's already dead. Oof—now that's a bummer.