Beartown

Beartown Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Peter sits in the locker room and thinks about his childhood. Sune and the sport had rescued him from a difficult childhood—his mom had died early, and his dad could be cruel when drunk. Hockey had given him something safe and solid. Later, when Peter’s career failed and his loved ones died, Sune had offered him the job in Beartown—a chance to “keep something alive.” Now he’s expected to tell Sune to quietly leave the hockey club.
After all that hockey has done for him, thanks to Sune, Peter feels guilty about betraying his mentor. Peter’s experience shows some of the positive aspects of hockey culture and its team loyalty—it can provide a safe environment for those who lack it elsewhere. It has also given Peter a place to shine when he feels like a helpless failure as a parent.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
Sune wakes up in his silent, tidy house and walks through Beartown. He recognizes and greets most of the men over 30, but seldom recognizes any teenagers or young men. He ends up wandering into the forest, all the way to Adri’s kennels. He sees Benji smoking but doesn’t comment, just praises Saturday’s game. He tells Benji he’s thinking of getting a puppy, since he’s about to have a lot more free time.
The precariousness of Sune’s job is shown by the fact that, while he’s coached many of the older men in Beartown, he doesn’t even know the younger ones; it suggests that he’s out of touch, just as team sponsors would have him believe. Yet it also highlights the fact that Sune has been like a father to a large part of Beartown.
Themes
Parents and Children Theme Icon
Benji tells Sune that just because the team loves David doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have been happy to play for Sune. Sune doesn’t tell Benji that it’s him, not Kevin, that he believes could be ready to play for the A-team. Adri comes out and chats about hockey with Sune, then insists on giving him a puppy as thanks for all he’s done for Benji. Sune is moved. He asks for advice on choosing a puppy, and Benji immediately picks one out, “because he’s a challenge.”
Benji, again showing his sensitivity, picks up on the source of Sune’s sadness and quietly honors him by choosing a “challenging” puppy—one who’s symbolic of Benji himself. This moment makes it clear that Sune and his values are still important to Beartown, even if there’s widespread pressure to focus more on simply winning.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Parents and Children Theme Icon
David is sitting in the rink, thinking about an upcoming media interview. He knows he can never properly explain what makes a player like Kevin—it’s an intangible desire to win, an inability to accept not winning, that can’t be taught. A player like Kevin can turn professional and earn millions, but the ones who are almost as good—who’ve put in just as much training time and effort—will end up working at the factory. The same is true of him, he knows—if the team starts losing, he’s not far removed from the factory, either. He can’t do anything else.
David’s reflections about Kevin have a double edge, since Kevin’s winning drive has served him well on the ice, but that same “inability to accept not winning” arguably contributed to his treatment of Maya, too. Because hockey is all-consuming in David’s world, he doesn’t consider the off-ice implications of these attitudes. Yet he’s acutely aware of the unforgiving line between success and failure.
Themes
Community Breakdown and Inequality Theme Icon
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
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David remembers Sune talking to him about the team motto when David was a new coach. Sune explained that “Culture” was “as much about what we encourage as what we actually permit.” When David asked him to elaborate, Sune explained “that most people don’t do what we tell them to. They do what we let them get away with.” David puts these thoughts aside for now, deciding that this week is only about results.
On some level, David is aware that aspects of the team culture might be unhealthy. But he chooses to put that consideration on the shelf, seeing the final as more urgent. Ironically, such a concern is more pressing right now than ever, and his negligence of it has likely contributed to the present dysfunctional culture.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Peter walks past the president’s office and hears sponsors making sexual comparisons to illustrate the hockey team’s achievement. Some laugh in response, and some stay silent, since the comments are just jokes. Later that day, Peter visits Tails in his supermarket office, and they end up chatting about Robbie Holts. Peter asks if Tails has any warehouse jobs for Robbie, since, as Tails always says, “we look after each other” in Beartown. Tails agrees to find something for Robbie.
Inappropriate jokes are ever-present throughout the hockey club. While not everyone appreciates them, no one is willing to say anything—which allows such jokes to continue unchallenged and creates an atmosphere in which misogyny and aggression are the norm. In the coming weeks, Tails’s remark that people in Beartown “look out for each other” will be confirmed in some cases, but sadly disproven in others—it depends on who needs looking after.
Themes
Community Breakdown and Inequality Theme Icon
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
At training that afternoon, Benji doesn’t show up. The players are mostly silent as Lyt lies about a sexual encounter with a girl at Kevin’s party. After the other players go out onto the ice, Bobo stays behind and picks up the trash the others left behind.
Silence persists in the locker room, too. Everyone knows Lyt is lying, and they don’t encourage it, but neither do they tell him to stop talking that way. However, Bobo displays a quiet act of resistance by not leaving trash for Fatima to pick up. This shows he’s sincere in his growing friendship with Amat.
Themes
Community Breakdown and Inequality Theme Icon
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Resistance and Courage Theme Icon
During practice, Kevin says to Amat, “What you think you saw […] you know what women are like.” Amat wishes he had the courage to say something, but he doesn’t. Kevin pats him on the back and says they’ll make a great pair on the A-team next year.
Even Kevin’s attempt to get Amat on his side is dehumanizing, relying on a generalization about women instead of treating Maya as a person. Amat, too, responds with silence. He doesn’t accept Kevin’s misogynistic implications, but he doesn’t actively resist them, either, allowing Kevin to assume his loyalty.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon