The Orchard Keeper Study Guide

The Orchard Keeper

The Orchard Keeper by Cormac McCarthy

  • Kenneth Ratner is an unemployed hitchhiker who attempts to rob and kill Marion Sylder. Sylder strangles him to death and dumps his corpse in Arthur's spray pit.
  • John Wesley Rattner is Kenneth Rattner's son. Throughout most of the novel, John Wesley is approximately age 14. No physical description of him is ever given, but McCarthy alludes that he lives alone with his mother. John Wesley is loyal, highly independent, and good natured.
  • Marion Sylder is an outlaw, bootlegger, and murderer. Sylder is married, but his relationship with his wife is never expanded upon.
  • Arthur Ownby , also referred to as "The Old Man" and "Uncle Ather", is a hermit who lives alone with his dog in the wilderness. He is acquainted with some of the local boys, eventually including John Wesley.

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