Beartown

Beartown Chapter 38 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Amat walks slowly home from Hed, an old Saab stops in front of him, and two men in black jackets get out. Amat knows they’re members of The Pack. They speak pleasantly to him, admiring his play during the semifinal and saying what a great A-team he, Kevin, and the others can build next year. Amat knows they’re watching his facial expression when they say Kevin’s name. He gives the slightest of nods in response.
The Erdahls don’t waste any time in moving against their perceived enemies. The members of The Pack are trying to get a sense of where Amat stands, threatening him in the vaguest of ways. The message isn’t lost on Amat, though—he knows his whole standing on the team, and thus in the town, is in jeopardy.
Themes
Community Breakdown and Inequality Theme Icon
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
Peter sits at his office desk, thinking about “the right sort of guy”—a phrase that suggests that your off-ice life says something about your playing. When you love something like hockey, you wish that it could exist in a bubble, untouched by the outside world. He remembers a time when Kira criticized him for believing that the police shouldn’t be involved in an off-ice scuffle between a player and a team sponsor. He didn’t like or want to defend the violence, but he “wanted hockey to solve hockey’s problems. Inside the bubble.” He realizes now that he’s a hypocrite.
Peter thinks about the “bubble” attitude that so many have been guilty of. He realizes he’s been complicit in sustaining such attitudes. When someone learns that their status on the ice is going to be protected at all costs, it naturally affects how that person will behave off the ice.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
The club president has been fielding angry phone calls all day. He’s always loved representing hockey as a movement that rises above class, politics, and other things that divide—society no longer has many of those. He’s tired of hearing that when something bad happens, it’s “hockey’s problem.” Finally he goes and tells Peter that maybe he should go home until the controversy dies down. Peter is already packed. The president tries to explain that the club can’t take a position on this situation, since “it’s her word against his.” Peter tells him that the club has already taken a position.
Peter indicates that by not taking a position, the hockey club is actually taking the position that behavior like Kevin’s is acceptable, and that players will continue to be sheltered from consequences for the team’s sake. The club president, however, doesn’t see it this way; to him and others loyal to the club, hockey always seems neutral, when it’s actually the most powerful force in the town.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
Maya sits in class, knowing she’ll always be nothing but “the girl who got raped.” Even those who believe her story will be afraid of her, choosing silence because it’s easier than getting mixed up in something so explosive. In the middle of class, she gets up and goes into an empty bathroom, then smashes the mirror with her fist.
Unlike Kevin, Maya has no one to stand up for her at school. Doing so would threaten other people’s standing, too, so everyone keeps silent. What’s more, she knows that her name is permanently lost—echoing Backman’s earlier point about dehumanization.
Themes
Culture, Character, and Entitlement Theme Icon
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
Resistance and Courage Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Benji sees Maya go into the bathroom and hears the sound of shattering glass. He goes in and stands there quietly while Maya cries that she knows Benji thinks she’s lying about his best friend. As Maya starts to leave, Benji moves aside so she doesn’t have to touch him, which she’ll later recognize as a kind gesture. Quietly, he replies that Maya’s wrong; Kevin isn’t his best friend anymore.
Benji is sensitive and sympathetic to Maya, taking care not to make her feel more uncomfortable. He lets her know that he’s not on Kevin’s side and that she isn’t completely alone. Kevin’s behavior has crossed a line that Benji can’t accept, showing how not everyone in the town is willing to conform to expectations of loyalty.
Themes
Loyalty and Belonging Theme Icon
Resistance and Courage Theme Icon
Jeannette is on her way into the bathroom when she sees Maya emerge with bleeding knuckles. A moment later, she hears an explosion of noise from the bathroom as Benji rips a sink out of the wall, destroys a toilet, and throws a trash can through the window. This incident is later attributed to Benji’s problems with aggression, but Jeannette meets Benji’s eyes as he’s escorted off, and she realizes he did it to protect Maya from getting in trouble for smashing the mirror.
Benji uses his aggressive reputation to shield Maya from further harm, subtly indicating that reputation and status can be tools for helping others as well as hurting them.
Themes
Resistance and Courage Theme Icon
Kira is in warrior mode at the office, researching sexual assault cases, but when Maya texts her to come home, she’s quickly there, holding Maya as Maya finally releases her emotion. Maya has tried to protect her loved ones from her own pain, but she can’t bear their sorrow as well as her own. Kira says that the town might have to see Maya’s pain “to understand that you’re a real person.”
Kira switches quickly from fighting mode to comforting her daughter. When Maya finally allows herself to fall apart, Kira understands that, in a certain way, Maya’s strength allows the town to continue to objectify her and not face the reality of what’s happened.
Themes
Parents and Children Theme Icon