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Grace Lake – A Synopsis

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John Hislop, a piano teacher in a small Alberta town, has served as a counselor at the Grace Lake church camp for all of the summers since the camp was first set up. Although he is recovering from a heart attack, he decides to take on the volunteer job again. There seems to be the usual assortment of teenage boys in the cabin to which he is assigned – except for one. Carroway, golden-haired and clad in expensive clothes, has the appearance of an angel, but it soon becomes evident that, with his contraband cigarettes, pornographic comics, sly comments and knowing looks, he is anything but. Shaken by his earlier brush with death, Hislop finds himself reflecting on a life in which he has never – until now — acknowledged his homosexuality. He recalls the love he had for a roommate – Malcolm — from his college days, and the emotional attachment he had for one of the boys he once drove to camp, a boy who died that summer of polio. Carroway seems able to sense the counselor’s sexual ambivalence. When the boys of Hislop’s cabin end up being coerced into making flower charts for a Science Day project, Carroway, in his chart, makes a thinly-veiled allusion to Hislop as a predator. He follows this up by performing a Salome dance for Drama Night, culminating with the papier-mache head of John the Baptist – wearing Hislop’s glasses — being brought in on a platter. Hislop, watching the play, experiences a second heart attack. In his hospital room, he envisions his funeral and believes he sees Malcolm waiting for him.