George Saunders Plot Synopsis – Short Story Guide: (2024)

“Fox 8” is a short story by George Saunders about a fox who learns human language before his group faces a major threat to their habitat. Here’s a summary of “Fox 8”.

“Fox 8” Summary

The narrator is a fox who apologizes for his writing and spelling errors. He learned “Yuman” language sitting by a house window night after night as a parent read bedtime stories to their child. The love shown between them made the fox hopeful.

Something made him suspicious of humans, though. Some of the stories were false and mean. There was one about a sly fox, but foxes are straight forward. A chicken was wearing glasses, which they don’t do. Others were about nice bears and wise owls—also wrong.

One day, Fox 8 reveals his ability to Fox 7 who encourages him to tell the Great Leader, Fox 28, about it. Fox 28 gets him to read a sign, which says “Coming soon, FoxViewCommons”.

They don’t have to wonder long what it means. Trucks start coming and dig up their forest, ruining their drinking spot and killing all the fish in the river. They can’t find food anywhere. Three older foxes die from lack of food.

George Saunders Plot Synopsis – Short Story Guide: (1)

If you want to sympathize with the foxes you should not eat much for weeks, get skinnier, and watch several friends die.

The Great Leader blames himself, but it’s not his fault. The group wants to leave, but he refuses.

The humans build big white boxes with names Fox 8 can’t understand. They park their cars and go inside. He finds out from a dog in a car that it’s the mall.

Crouching in the parking lot, Fox 8 hears two humans refer to a “food court”, and he wonders if he could get food from it. He offers this plan at the group meeting. Knowing his reputation as a daydreamer, they have their doubts. Fox 41 remembers when Fox 8 claimed he went to college with a human baby, which was embarrassing. His idea is shot down, and the Great Leader puts an end to it.

Fox 8 disagrees with the Great Leader’s decision. Seeing the group’s pitiful state that night, he decides to do it by himself. He sets off the next morning for the mall. He’s surprised to be joined by his friend, Fox 7.

They hurry across the dangerous parking lot. They get through the door with a mother and toddler. They’re stunned by the many unfamiliar sights and sounds of the mall. Some humans walking by drop pieces of food for them. They gather up a bunch in their mouths and go out the door. The outside is unfamiliar, like it’s a completely different parking lot.

Foxes 7 and 8 are spotted by two humans digging. They take off their blue hats and throw them at the foxes. Fox 7 is hit in the face and falls over bleeding. Fox 8 can’t revive him and must flee. The humans kick and beat Fox 7 more, almost like they’re enjoying themselves. They pick up his dead body and throw it.

“Fox 8” Summary, Cont’d

Fox 8 hides until dark and goes to the body. It looks worse than when a car hits them. Humans did this to him. Fox 8 roams for days, lost. When he sleeps, he has bad dreams of Fox 7. Eventually, he reaches a beautiful forest with a different group of foxes. He introduces himself and tells his story. They give him food and bring him to the pond to drink.

He imagines bringing his group here and being a hero. The New Foxes welcome the idea; there’s lots of food for everyone. For weeks, he looks for his old group but can’t find them.

Fox 8 lives with the new group. He has lots of food and water. He finds out he’s having babies with Fox SmallNose/Alert+Funy. He doesn’t want to be a Dad who brings everyone down. He’s writing this letter to humans to get answers and renew his hope.

He doesn’t understand how humans are capable of building a beautiful mall and killing Fox 7. Even when life is good, it feels like a trick, like being betrayed by a friend. He was going to just stay away from humans, but now that he’s having babies he wants to be hopeful.

Fox 8 will leave this letter at a house he saw belonging to P. Melonsky. He can read it, find out what’s going on, and answer it.

Fox 8 realizes his story was sad and doesn’t have a happy ending, which humans like. He knows how human stories can end happier—try being nicer. He waits for the answer.

I hope this summary of “Fox 8” was helpful.

George Saunders Plot Synopsis – Short Story Guide: (2024)

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