Study Guide

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge Chapter 21: December 31, 1823

By Michael Punke

Chapter 21: December 31, 1823

  • It's a snowy New Year's Eve, but Captain Henry's crew is psyched because the boss man made something very special for them: moonshine.
  • The hooch is nasty, but it does the trick. Captain Henry even busts out his fiddle to bolster the festivities.
  • As evidence of their debauchery, we humbly submit Exhibit A: Pig, passed out in a drunken stupor. But don't forget about Exhibit B: the men's desire to shoot a tin cup off their passed-out comrade's head.
  • Stubby Bill and some guy named Alistair Murphy volunteer for this surely disastrous idea.
  • Stubby is up first, and he's really nervous. Like, really nervous. So much so, in fact, that his shot lands "a full twelve inches above the cup" (2.21.15). The men laugh.
  • Murphy, on the other hand, turns and shoots without thinking, perfectly nailing the tin cup. This finally wakes Pig up.
  • Murphy then gets the bright idea to shoot off their rinky-dink cannon. In the middle of a snowstorm. Drunk out of their minds. Ladies and Gentlemen, allow us to introduce you the 1823 class of the Darwin Awards.
  • Paul Hawker decides to man the cannon. He loads it up, light the fuse, and...nothing. Furious, Hawker loads a clearly excessive amount of fuel to the cannon, even emptying the gunpowder from nearby guns.
  • Okay—round two. Hawker lights the fuse and...the cannon explodes. Yup—that happened. Two men are thrown over the side, their lives saved by a pillow of fluffy snow.
  • Hawker doesn't die, though by all accounts dude probably has it coming for being such a dummy.
  • We cut to Glass, five days since leaving Fort Union, as he trudges through the snow. It's getting really cold, and night is about to fall.
  • Glass huddles in the cover of a "downed tree" and attempts to start a fire (2.21.53). Before he can get it really burning, however, the wind suddenly shifts and threatens the still-tiny flame.
  • Desperate, Glass tries to transfer the fire to the other side of the tree, but, as you might imagine, he fails. He struggles to get a new fire going on the other side with his gunpowder.
  • Before he can do that, however, Glass hears the cannon explosions. He must be close! He decides to brave the bad weather and finish the road to Fort Miguel.
  • Glass bursts into the bunkhouse to find the whole crew gathered. He can't find Fitzgerald, but he does see Bridger.
  • Glass approaches Bridger and tells him to stand up. He then commences a brutal beat-down the likes of which you haven't seen outside of the Fast and Furious franchise.
  • Glass grabs his stolen knife and is about to stab Bridger, but something holds him back. Maybe it's Bridger's age. Maybe it's the look of resignation in his eyes. Either way, Glass turns around and warms himself beside the fire.