My Family and Other Animals

My Family and Other Animals

My Family and Other Animals Part 3, Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One of Gerry's favorite places is a large hill with three olive groves on it. He calls the groves the Cyclamen Woods, as cyclamen flowers grow there prolifically. One afternoon, as he rests there with Roger, Widdle, and Puke, he watches a mother magpie carry worms to a nearby olive tree. When the mother flies away, Gerry climbs up to the nest. He reaches a hand in and draws out a revolting-looking baby bird. He decides to take two. After introducing them to the dogs, he carries his new pets home.
When Gerry can describe the baby magpies as revolting and then decide to take one anyway, it shows that regardless of his feelings on the matter, he still believes that all animals and plants are deserving of care and consideration, regardless of what they look like.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
When Gerry arrives home, the family is in no mood to help him name the new additions. Margo and Mother are curious, while Leslie, Larry, and Spiro declare that the babies are disgusting. Leslie cautions Gerry to not allow the birds to steal, which sends Larry into a tizzy. He waves a 100-dachma note over the babies and when they reach for the money, he declares that they have criminal instincts. Gerry explains that the mother would reject them if he put them back, and Mother and Margo insist they can't let them starve. Spiro distastefully asks what Gerry intends to do with the bastards and Mother slowly tells him they're magpies. He says the word "magenpies," and with that, the magpies become known as the Magenpies.
When Leslie is the one to bring up magpies' natural tendency to go for shiny or interesting items, it shows that he's possibly more entrenched in nature than Gerry gives him credit for. Even if he does spend time in the woods primarily to hunt, being there still allows him to learn a great deal about the world around him and in turn, use what he knows to help Gerry prepare the best way to care for the Magenpies.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
Larry seems to forget about the Magenpies' criminal instincts as the birds grow. They have the run of the villa and know which rooms are most interesting and which rooms are uninteresting to visit, like Mother and Margo's. They're fascinated by Larry's bedroom because he forbids them from entering. Because of this, Gerry believes the Magenpies decide that Larry has something to hide, and they carefully plan a raid on his room.
Here, Gerry merges the Magenpies' natural curiosity with his own anthropomorphism when he states that they planned the raid on his bedroom. It's worth noting that the birds are still wild animals even if they are tame, and the raid shows that as parts of nature, Larry is still at their mercy.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
One afternoon, when Larry unthinkingly leaves his window open and goes for a swim, the Magenpies silently raid his room. Larry notices one on his windowsill when he returns and he grabs Gerry as he races upstairs. They open the door to find Larry's manuscript spread everywhere, the typewriter disemboweled, and the baking soda tin opened and flung around. The Magenpies topped the whole thing off by opening bottles of ink and then leaving inky bird prints over the entire room. Gerry tells Larry that the Magenpies aren't to blame; they're naturally curious birds and didn't mean any harm, but Larry angrily tells Gerry to lock the birds up.
Larry views his bedroom as a sanctuary in which the natural world should have little or no sway over what goes on. The Magenpies' raid shows him that, as comforting as his idea is, it's not actually true; the birds' curious natures are more powerful than his power to keep them out. When Larry insists that the birds need to be locked up, it shows that he'd much rather dominate over nature than coexist with it.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
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The rest of the family appears in the doorway to survey the damage. Larry angrily yells at all of them. He's especially incensed when Mother reminds him that the birds don't understand they did anything wrong, a suggestion he sees as proof that his family will side with the animals over him any day. Gerry locks the Magenpies in his room and decides to ask Kralefsky to help him build a large cage. Gerry reasons that afterwards, Kralefsky can teach Gerry to wrestle, which is one of Kralefsky's many hidden skills.
Mother's attempt to soothe Larry and defend the Magenpies shows that while she generally tends to side with the rest of the family when it comes to Gerry's more difficult pets, she does understand that the animals are, first and foremost, wild animals—simply taming them doesn't deprive them of their natures. This suggests she has more in common with Gerry's way of seeing the natural world.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
Gerry soon discovers that Kralefsky loves telling stories that involve himself as a hero and a woman known as a Lady. When Kralefsky realizes that Gerry seems to believe his stories, they become fantastic. He first regales Gerry with a tale of rescuing a Lady from a "treacherous" bull terrier by choking the dog with its own tongue. From there, Kralefsky talks about surviving a shipwreck with a Lady, saving a Lady from bandits in the Syrian desert, and serving in the Secret Service during the First World War with, unsurprisingly, a Lady spy.
It's somewhat unclear here whether Kralefsky actually believes that Gerry thinks his stories are true, or is just thrilled to have a captive and happy audience. If the first is true, it does suggest that despite all of Kralefsky's admirable qualities, he also thinks that Gerry is more gullible than he actually is on account of his youth.
Themes
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Unfortunately for Kralefsky, Gerry also tends to believe stories that seem even faintly possible. This is the case when Kralefsky tells Gerry about saving a Lady from a brute in Paris who turns out to be a champion wrestler. The wrestler challenged Kralefsky to a match, and Kralefsky proved himself a reasonable match and won. Intrigued, Gerry asks Kralefsky to teach him to wrestle, and Kralefsky reluctantly agrees to do so at some point in the future. The day he comes to help Gerry with the Magenpies' cage, Gerry reminds Kralefsky of his promise. Kralefsky is very displeased, but finally agrees to show Gerry some tricks in the secluded drawing room.
Gerry's critical thinking skills do have a limit; to the reader it's likely clear that the wrestling story is just as outlandish and untrue as any of the others—especially given Kralefsky's unwillingness to share his skills with Gerry—while Gerry feels he's being kind by giving Kralefsky an opportunity to teach something that he's good at. Just like Gerry does with his animals, he's trying to engage with Kralefsky in a way that allows Kralefsky to shine.
Themes
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon
In the drawing room, Kralefsky demonstrates how to throw one's opponent off balance by gently tossing Gerry onto a sofa. He instructs Gerry to attempt to do the same to him, and Gerry enthusiastically does so. Kralefsky hits the floor with a thud and a yell that brings the rest of the family running. They all tell Gerry he was silly, though Gerry insists he just followed instructions.
In this case, Kralefsky underestimates Gerry's maturity rather than his youth. This is proof that Gerry is growing up and becoming more mature, at least physically.
Themes
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
As Kralefsky's eyes widen, Larry regales the room with tales of various individuals who broke their backs, many of whom died. Kralefsky asks that Spiro take him to see a doctor, and Mother agrees to fetch Theodore to take an X-ray. Later, Spiro returns with a note from Theodore explaining that Kralefsky cracked two ribs, with a postscript asking about some misplaced mosquito specimens.
Theodore's note adds to the absurdity of the entire situation, as it's clear that Kralefsky's welfare isn't the only thing on his mind. Like Gerry, Theodore places just as much emphasis on his specimens and his study of the natural world, regardless of what's going on in the human world.
Themes
The Natural World Theme Icon
Absurdity and Storytelling Theme Icon
Childhood, Adulthood, and Education Theme Icon
Friendship and the Care of Animals Theme Icon