Killers of the Flower Moon

by

David Grann

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Killers of the Flower Moon: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
During the fall of 1925, White feels the pressure to solve the case continuing to mount—both from Hoover and from his own knowledge of the Osage tribe’s fear, desperation, and feelings of injustice.
White has his own career in mind but is still perhaps the only person to care genuinely for the Osage and to want to relieve their suffering.
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White knows that many prejudiced and corrupt citizens will not implicate one of their own in the Osage killings—so White decides to change his strategy and find someone who is just as desperate as he himself is: an outlaw with information on Hale. White turns to Dick Gregg, a twenty-three-year-old “stickup man” who is in a Kansas prison, serving a ten-year sentence for robbery. Gregg once told Agent Burger something about the murders, but was coy, and would not reveal any really necessary information.
Pressed up against a wall and unable to make any headway by turning to the Osages’ white neighbors, White and his men decide to try a different tack and seek out men who have nothing to lose—and everything to gain by coming forward with information about the killings.
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White meets with Gregg personally, but finds the young man reluctant to cross Hale for fear of losing his own life. When White offers Gregg the chance to shave time off his sentence, Gregg folds, and tells White and his agents that in the summer of 1922, Hale met with Gregg’s gang and told the leader that he’d pay them all $2,000 to “bump off” Bill Smith and his wife. The leader of the gang, Al Spencer, told Hale he wouldn’t, and Hale tried to recruit Gregg personally to the task, but Gregg too refused. White is grateful for Gregg’s testimony—even though he knows it is of limited legal value as it comes from an incarcerated crook. Gregg urges White to seek out another outlaw, but White finds out that the man is dead.
Surprisingly, an incarcerated outlaw whose reputation is questionable to say the least gives White the first big break he’s had so far—and implicates Hale to boot. As White begins following up on Gregg’s leads, however, he is about to find that Hale has already taken measures—extreme measures—to secure his own safety. 
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White’s continues desperately searching for a witness, and soon alights upon Henry Grammer—the rodeo star and bootlegger—who has known Hale for years and years, and who allegedly was overheard talking to Grammer before the murders, murmuring something about “that Indian deal.” Grammer, however, is dead, too—and has been since June of 1923, three months after the demolition of the Smiths’ house.
Anyone who seems to have anything on Hale turns up dead—making clear that Hale is systematically dispatching anyone who might implicate him in the murders.
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Finally, a yegg—slang for a safecracker—gives White and his team the name of another witness to the bombing plot: Asa Kirby, an associate of Grammer’s. Kirby, according to the yegg, is a “soup man”—an expert in explosives. White is beyond frustrated to learn that Kirby, too, is dead after a shootout during a botched robbery—a botched robbery which authorities were tipped off about by none other than William K. Hale. Another outlaw White interviews tells him that Hale allegedly set up the robbery, creating a plot within a plot to bump off anyone who might have information about him—not only that, but Hale is also suspected of being behind the deaths of the other outlaws, and has been “taking care” of people who have information about him left and right.
White and his men have suspected what Hale is doing, but when Kirby turns up dead—and Hale is supposedly behind the job that did him in—White knows for certain that Hale is guilty and doing everything in his (admittedly vast) powers to keep his reputation and freedom intact.
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Another informant, Kelsie Morrison, warns White and his agents that Hale knows they are onto him—sure enough, Hale has been more committed than ever to make himself seem like an upstanding citizen and generous patron within his community, giving out loans and presents around town. Anytime White spots Hale around town in Osage County, he notes that the man looks “like he own[s] the world.”
White becomes frustrated and angry as he watches Hale, a guilty mastermind and murderer, strut about town like the “king” many still believe him to be.
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