Stone Boy Summary

First published in Mademoiselle in 1957, Gina Berriault’s ‘‘The Stone Boy’’ catapulted its author to national fame after it was made into a movie in 1984. Even before this widespread recognition, ‘‘The Stone Boy’’—which was included in the author’s first collection of short stories, The Mistress, and Other Stories (1965)—had helped to solidify Berriault’s reputation as a writer concerned with the serious issues of the human condition. Despite acclaim from prominent reviewers as well as other American writers such as Andre Dubus, who called Berriault ‘‘a splendid and unheralded writer,’’ Berriault has not won the attention of a wide body of readers. Molly McQuade expressed regret in the Chicago Tribune Book World that Berriault’s work ‘‘has not met with a splashy success or even with the sustained and sustaining respect that it deserves.’’
Readers who do take note of ‘‘The Stone Boy,’’ however, are rewarded with an accomplished yet compact story filled with complex human emotions and relationships. Set on a small family farm, ‘‘The Stone Boy’’ tells the story of nine-year-old Arnold who accidentally and fatally shoots his older brother. When Arnold does not respond to this event emotionally, his family assumes that he must be some sort of ‘‘monster.’’ As the story unfolds, Arnold, thus isolated from those who are closest to him, turns himself into the image that his family now holds of him. The story demonstrates the immeasurable, almost insurmountable, effect that other people’s opinions have on the self-perception of people, especially younger people. It also raises socially important questions about how and why children develop into the adults they become.

The Stone Boy Summary

One morning nine-year-old Arnold wakes up early in order to go pick peas in the garden with his older brother Eugie. Despite the ring of the alarm clock, Eugie continues to sleep, and Arnold feels uncomfortable, as if he—fully awake and dressed—is placed unexpectedly in the superior position. Arnold wakes his brother and goes downstairs. He takes his rifle from the rack with the expectation of going duck shooting. Eugie comes downstairs, too, reminds Arnold that it isn’t duck season. Then the two boys leave the house.
They come to the wire fence that divides the fields from the lake. Eugie passes through the fence first. As Arnold goes between the wires, his gun catches. He jerks at it to free it, and it fires. Arnold feels foolish, expecting his brother to make fun of him for this mistake. Instead, he finds his brother lying on the ground. Arnold sees a spot of blood at the back of his neck. After trying unsuccessfully to rouse Eugie, Arnold sets to work picking peas.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Gina Berriault (January 1, 1926 – July 15, 1999), was an American novelist and short story writer.[1]
Berriault was born in Long Beach, California, to Russian-Jewish immigrant parents. Her father was a freelance writer and Berriault took her inspiration from him, using his stand-up typewriter to write her first stories while still in grammar school.
Berriault had a prolific writing career, which included stories, novels and screenplays. Her writing tended to focus on life in and around San Francisco. She published four novels and three collections of short stories, including Women in Their Beds: New & Selected Stories (1996), which won the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award. In 1997 Berriault was chosen as winner of the Rea Award for the Short Story, for outstanding achievement in that genre.
Berriault taught writing at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and San Francisco State University. She also received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Ingram-Merrill Fellowship, a Commonwealth Gold Medal for Literature, the Pushcart Prize and several O’Henry prizes.
She adapted her short story “The Stone Boy” for a film of the same title, released in 1984.[2] The same story had previously been adapted by another writer for a 1960 television presentation.[3]
Berriault died in 1999, at age 73, at Marin General Hospital in Greenbrae, California.[4]



  • The Descent (1960)
  • A Conference of Victims (1962)
  • The Son (1966)
  • The Lights of Earth (1984)

Story collections


  1. ^ “Gina Berriault”Rea Award for the Short Story. Rea Foundation. Retrieved May 24, 2010.
  2. ^ The Stone Boy (1984) at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ The Stone Boy (1960) at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ “Gina Berriault, 73, An Author Of Deft Novels And Short Stories (obituary)”The New York Times. July 23, 1999. Retrieved May 24, 2010.