“Father, Son, Holy Rabbit” Summary: Stephen Graham Jones Short Story Plot Synopsis

Father, Son, Holy Rabbit Summary Stephen Graham Jones Short Story Plot Synopsis
“Father, Son, Holy Rabbit” Summary

“Father, Son, Holy Rabbit” is a short story of survival by Stephen Graham Jones. It’s about a father and son who get lost in a snow storm in the woods and the desperate measures the father takes to keep his son alive. If you’re not familiar with the story, be warned that it could be disturbing. It can be found in The New Black: A Neo-Noir Anthology. Here’s a summary of “Father, Son, Holy Rabbit”.

“Father, Son, Holy Rabbit” Summary

It’s a father and son’s third day lost in a snow storm. They’ve lost track of their camp, truck and the highway. They’re eating snow now. The father also eats seed and pine needles, an image that comes to the boy years later at a job interview. The father only has a knife on him.

They’re staying in a dry spot under a tree but it’s still windy. They hit each other in the face to stay awake. After falling asleep once, the boy wakes to his father crying and rubbing him to get the blood flowing. He tells his dad about a rabbit he dreamed of.

When the boy wakes up again later that day, his dad is gone. The boy follows the tracks until they get confused. His father finds him that night and they stay under another tree.

The next morning they make their way back to the first tree. The father is thinking of the rabbit. They see tracks in the snow. The father carves their initials into the trunk of the tree. That night, the father sets off with a sharpened branch to look for the rabbit, whom the boy has named Slaney. The boy sees his mother’s name has been added to the tree.

Hours later, the father returns covered with snow. He has the rabbit. He cuts it open and they eat it in chunks, without chewing. They throw the rabbit skin away. The boy throws up in his sleep and eats it again before his father wakes up.

The next day, they stay in their spot under the tree. The day after, the father sets out again with a stick. He comes back empty-handed and with one leg frozen from breaking through the creek.

When they wake up during the night, they see a rabbit about twenty feet away. The father takes off in pursuit but returns an hour later with nothing. The father adds a cartoon rabbit carving to the tree, with the name “Slaney” underneath.

“Father, Son, Holy Rabbit” Summary, Cont’d

The next time they wake up, the father goes out again. The boy climbs the tree and sleeps. His father returns with a rabbit, already cut open. He pulls out a long sliver of meat for the boy. They put the skin where they had put the last one. It has the same coloring.

The next morning, the skin is gone. The man uses his stick to stand and goes out looking again. Four hours later he returns with a rabbit like last time, already cut open with the guts eaten. The boy has the stringy meat. The father’s soaked to the hips from the creek.

The next morning, the father takes a second branch and uses them like ski poles to walk. He comes back thirty minutes later with another rabbit—it was just standing there. The boy’s meat isn’t as bloody and he can chew it now.

The father throws up that night. The boy pretends not to see. He tells his dad not to go out today, claiming he’s not hungry.

He has to go out the next day. The storm has broken and the birds are out. The boy hopes the rabbit won’t be on the other side of the creek this time, but his father comes back wet to the hips again. His whole front is bloodstained.

The boy eats. The father falls over trying to sit down. They sleep for a while. The boy wakes to scratchy voices like from a radio but they stop. His father doesn’t get up today. Looking at tracks in the melting snow, the boy tears the back of his pants because of dried blood from his father.

Sometime that night, a tired man in flannel with a flashlight finds them. Other men arrive and check on his father’s leg injuries. He looks away. When his father stands using the poles, the boy sees his tattered pants and legs from where the meat was cut. He starts moving into the woods.

The boy pulls away from the rescuers and digs in the snow, but there’s nothing there. He’s rescued that day, but a part of him stays in the woods. The interviewer eats a handful of sunflower seeds and asks what he’s written for a name—Slade? Slake? He reaches across and delicately thumps the man’s cheek, pretending he doesn’t see the small brown rabbit outside.

Some woods are so big, you can never find your way out.

I hope this summary of “Father, Son, Holy Rabbit” by Stephen Graham Jones was helpful.