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Modoc (novel)

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Publication date  26 August 1998
Pages  352 pp
Originally published  26 August 1998
Genre  Biography
Country  United States of America
4.2/5 Goodreads

Language  English
Media type  Print (Paperback)
ISBN  0-06-092951-0
Author  Ralph Helfer
Publisher  HarperCollins
OCLC  39955453
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Similar  Ralph Helfer books, Elephant books

Modoc is a book written by American writer Ralph Helfer and published in 1998. It tells the story of a boy and an elephant and their fight to stay together across three continents.


Plot summary

Modoc tells the story of Bram, a German boy, and his elephant, Modoc. Bram and Modoc are born on the same day and the same hour. Brams' father wished for a boy and girl. He felt his dream was fulfilled. Brams' father is a third generation elephant trainer and from an early age Bram followed in his father's footsteps. Brams' family is unique in the way they trained the elephants. Instead of threat and intimidation the elephants are treated with praise and respect. Once old enough Modoc begins to perform in the circus. The circus owner fell ill and the circus is sold to an American, Mr. North. Bram is unwilling to be parted from his elephant and acts as a stow away across the Indian Ocean.

The ship is wrecked, leaving Modoc, Mr. Pitt, Bram and others adrift in the ocean. The survivors stay afloat on Modoc’s back until help comes for them at the last possible second. Modoc and Bram recuperate in India where Bram [learns much about elephant training and care at the Elephantarium as well as Indian life becoming a favorite 'son' of the maharaja]. Afraid the circus owner will find them, the boy and elephant flee into the teak forests and [is able to] join the ranks of the mahouts and marry a village daughter because of his 'son of the maharaja' status. Rebels eventually take the town, killing Bram’s wife along with many of the population.

The circus owner is unexplainably able to find them through the rebellion and transports Modoc and Bram to America where they become stars of the big top. Modoc survives a poisoning attempt, a fire and a hook-wielding drunk before the circus owner decides she is too scarred to appear in the ring any longer and sells her without Bram's knowledge and Bram is very hurt.

Ten years pass in which Modoc’s life deteriorates into abuse until she is purchased by Ralph Helfer, a Hollywood animal trainer. Helfer nurses her back to health and is surprised to find the variety of acts she already knows. Drawn by their supernatural connection, Bram locates her some years after. They spend the rest of their lives in constant contact [at Helfer's ranch], nursing one another through old age. Bram is first of the pair to die, saying he is going to show Modoc the way.


The novel was translated into Chinese by Zhang Haidi, and won a national prize in China for best translated works.


Modoc (novel) Wikipedia