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Free Study Guide-When The Legends Die by Hal Borland- Free Book Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES

CHAPTER 39

Summary

Tom tries to show off to his nurse, Mary, but she makes a face at him and informs him that she knows he is responsible for killing ten horses. She then does not return to his room for several days.

Tom continues to be haunted by nightmares. He dreams of the ride that killed the roan and almost killed him as well. The memory causes him pain and agony. As he reviews the ride in his mind, he decides that panic caused the fall.

Tom resolves to return to the area of his cabin. He wonders if he will find any remains there. He thinks about Red and Meo. He finds it ironic that Red called Meo a penniless hero, but it was Meo who was able to pay for Redís burial, as well as his own.

When Mary returns to his room after three days of absence, Tom is still rude to her. She realizes that he is really mad at life, not at her.


Notes

Mary is the only one who can see why Tom is so troubled. She knows that he is fearful of being crippled. Because of his anxiety, Tom is rude and resentful to everyone who tries to help him, especially to Mary.

Whenever Tom is idle, the memories of his childhood and Redís words come back to him. He tries unsuccessfully to force the thoughts from his mind. In the end, he decides he will return to the area of his childhood for a visit.

When Dr. Ferguson tells Tom that he is getting better, he thinks about returning to the rodeo ring. He feels he must ride again to find out if he panics in the saddle like before. He does not seem to care about getting reinjured or even dying, for he feels he has nothing to live for.

CHAPTER 40

Summary

Tom improves further and is placed in a wheel chair. While Mary pushes him, Tom tells her about broncos, and she asks him more questions. Tom tries to walk on his own when Mary is not around. One time when he walks alone, she catches him. She tries to stop him, but he pushes her away. When Mary tells Dr. Ferguson about Tomís efforts, he asks him to walk in his presence. He walks successfully, but it takes much effort. Dr. Ferguson tells Tom he is ahead of his expected recovery. He informs Tom that he will be leaving the hospital soon and advises him to take care of himself after he is discharged. Tomís muscles ache from both tension and exercise as the doctor and Mary leave.

Notes

As Tom improves, he is allowed to sit in a wheelchair; but he is determined not to be in a wheelchair for long, so he pushes himself to the limit. When no one is watching, he gets out of the chair and forces himself to walk, in spite of the pain. Dr. Ferguson is impressed with his progress and tells Tom that he will soon be out of the hospital.

CHAPTER 41

Summary

Tom thinks about getting further help at a convalescent home, and Mary suggests Nyack. In the end, however, he decides not to go. Instead, he calculates how much he must pay the hospital for his stay and arranges to sell his car to pay the bill.

As the time grows close for Tom to leave the hospital, Mary becomes distant and impersonal with him, making him feel like a stranger. As he pays his bill and prepares to leave the hospital, he almost hopes that someone will stop him, proving that they want to care for him and protect him; but no one does. Mary simply says good-bye. As he departs, he feels like he does not belong anywhere. As a result, he decides he will take a train and head west.

Notes

Tomís anxiety is successfully captured in this chapter. He feels he belongs no where and has no place to go. He even hopes that some one will stop him from checking out of the hospital, but no one does. The author appropriately uses the word "stranger" several times to describe how Tom is feeling in the chapter.

Tom has trouble dealing with his frustration. As an adult, he has always been able to take out his hostility on the broncos, but he can no longer do that. Unable to return to the ring yet, he decides to take a train back west - to the area of his childhood. It is his search for himself.

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