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Demon Copperhead is a novel by Barbara Kingsolver that tells the story of a boy named Demon, born to a single mother in a trailer in southern Appalachia. Demon has nothing but his father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, along with a caustic wit and a talent for survival. Despite the challenges of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, addiction, and heartbreak, Demon perseveres. However, he is haunted by his invisibility in a culture that values urban life over rural life.


This novel draws inspiration from Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, which was based on the author’s own experiences with institutional poverty and the impact on children in his society. The problems Dickens addressed still exist today, and Kingsolver uses his anger and compassion to tell Demon’s story. Through her writing, she explores the transformative power of storytelling and offers hope to a new generation of lost boys and those born into beautiful yet cursed places they cannot leave behind.

Demon Copperhead speaks to the challenges faced by those living in rural America and the struggles of individuals growing up in poverty. The novel offers a unique perspective on these issues and sheds light on the enduring impact of poverty on individuals and their communities. Kingsolver’s writing is unsparing, honest, and heartfelt, capturing the struggles and triumphs of a young boy trying to find his way in the world.

In conclusion, Demon Copperhead is a moving and powerful novel that captures the challenges of growing up in rural America. Through the story of Demon, Kingsolver offers insight into the complexities of poverty and the transformative power of storytelling. This novel is a must-read for anyone interested in the enduring impact of poverty on individuals and their communities.

Book Review

Barbara Kingsolver’s reimagining of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, Demon Copperhead, is set in the Appalachian Highlands. Despite the challenge of modernizing a classic novel written in the mid-19th century, Kingsolver successfully captures the ferocious critique of institutional poverty and its damaging effects on children that is still relevant today.

The protagonist, Damon Fields, nicknamed Demon Copperhead for his red hair, is born to a drug-using teenage single mother in a trailer in Lee County, Virginia. Living in poverty, Demon faces many challenges, including being raised by a weak and infantile mother and navigating the foster care system. Throughout the novel, Kingsolver explores the theme of heroism in the face of adversity, highlighting the struggle of children born into lives without choices.

Despite the changes made to modernize the novel, Kingsolver successfully captures the humor and pathos of Demon’s story. As a narrator, Demon is just as likable and nuanced as Dickens’ David Copperfield. The update is enhanced by a slangy southern spin, which adds to the novel’s appeal.

While some of the updates are less successful, such as the portrayal of the McCobbs, who are less sympathetic than Dickens’ Micawbers, Kingsolver’s real masterstroke is drawing a parallel between toxic people like Steerforth in Dickens’ novel and the quick fix that pills seem to offer Demon and almost everyone else in his dead-end world. In addition, Kingsolver’s portrayal of “Angus” Winfield, who possesses human qualities that the angelic Agnes lacks in Dickens’ novel, adds an appealing alternative to the traditional Victorian Angel in the House.

Overall, Demon Copperhead is a powerful reworking of a classic novel that successfully captures the timeless themes of institutional poverty and heroism in the face of adversity. Kingsolver’s writing is nuanced and insightful, making this novel a must-read for anyone interested in the challenges of growing up in poverty and the transformative power of survival.

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver PDF

Main Characters in Demon Copperhead Book

  • Damon Fields, also known as Demon Copperhead – The protagonist and narrator of the novel, a boy born into poverty who faces numerous challenges throughout his life.
  • Demon’s mother – A drug-addicted teenage single mother who struggles to take care of her son.
  • Mrs. Peggot – A member of the extended family who helps raise Demon when his mother is unable to.
  • Tommy Waddles – One of Demon’s friends during his time in foster care, who is obsessed with drawing skeletons.
  • Sterling Ford, aka Fast Forward – Another friend of Demon’s, who is a charismatic school quarterback and recreational drug user.
  • Coach Winfield – A coach and mentor figure who takes in Demon and helps him become a successful football player.
  • Agnes Winfield, aka Angus – Coach Winfield’s daughter, who becomes Demon’s close friend and potential love interest.
  • Dori – Demon’s girlfriend and fellow drug addict.
  • The McCobbs – A foster family that mistreats and exploits Demon.
  • Mr. Crickson – A tobacco farmer who takes Demon in as a foster child and provides a difficult living situation.

These characters, along with others, help shape Demon’s journey as he navigates the challenges of institutional poverty, child labor, addiction, and foster care.

Detail Book

Author : Barbara Kingsolver
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Harper
Release Date : October 18, 2022
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Total Page ‏ : ‎ 560 pages
ISBN ‏ : ‎ 9780063251922

Age Rating

The book is categorized as an adult fiction novel and contains mature themes such as addiction, poverty, and abuse. Therefore, it is recommended for adult readers and may not be suitable for younger audiences. However, specific age ratings may vary depending on the country and the reader’s personal sensitivity to the content. It is always recommended that parents or guardians read the book first to make an informed decision about whether it is appropriate for their children.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the book about?
The book is a retelling of Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield set in the Appalachian Mountains. It tells the story of Damon Fields, known as Demon Copperhead for his red hair, who is born to a drug-using teenage single mother in a trailer in Lee County, Virginia. The novel explores the challenges faced by children born into institutional poverty and the transformative power of survival.

Who is the author?
Barbara Kingsolver is the author of the book. She is an American novelist, essayist, and poet known for her works of fiction, including The Poisonwood Bible and The Bean Trees.

Is it a classic novel?
No, Demon Copperhead is not a classic novel. It is a retelling of a classic novel, Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield, set in the Appalachian Mountains.

What themes are explored in Demon Copperhead?
It explores the themes of institutional poverty, heroism in the face of adversity, and the transformative power of survival.

Is it appropriate for young readers?
It deals with mature themes and contains strong language, making it more appropriate for older readers. It is recommended for ages 14 and up.

Is there a sequel to Demon Copperhead?
No, there is no sequel to this book at this time.

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