Son of the Wolfman

Chabon, Michael

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Annotated by:
Miksanek, Tony
  • Date of entry: Jun-01-2000


Despite years of trying, Cara Glanzman and her husband, Richard Case, both thirty-four years old, are unable to have a child. In fact she is contemplating getting a divorce, and he has decided that he really doesn't want any children. Everything changes when Cara is raped and becomes pregnant by Derrick James Cooper, also known as the "Reservoir Rapist." Although Cara initially considers having an abortion, she decides to have the baby.

As the pregnancy progresses, Cara discovers herself even as her husband becomes lost and despondent. The couple is greatly aided by a delightful midwife named Dorothy Pendleton. When Cara's large, hairy son is born, Richard is present to assist Dorothy with the delivery. "Wolfman Junior," the son of a monster, seems to be accepted by both his mother and surrogate father.


Son of the Wolfman is an unsettling story where readers may disagree as to which character (Cara, Richard, or Wolfman Junior) is most deserving of their pity. In a tale full of irony, an infertile couple on the brink of surrendering not only the possibility of a family but perhaps their marriage itself, suddenly attains a much sought after pregnancy through the hideous act of rape. While Cara is ultimately embellished by her pregnancy, Richard spirals downward. He feels angry, then helpless. What he has been unable to achieve despite years of effort, a rapist accomplishes in a single moment. Richard unintentionally loses the twenty-five pounds that his wife probably gains.

Loss of control and lack of communication haunt this story. The love, duty, and shared burden of marriage are threatened by isolation, grief, and despair. It is the birth of a child (who is the result and constant reminder of a terrible act of violation) that offers the possibility of rescuing and invigorating this couple's marriage. The author seems intrigued by the concept of transformation as evidenced by the unusual title of the collection in which this story appears, Werewolves in Their Youth. While some transformations are gruesome, others it appears, offer the hope of redemption.


First published in Harper's Magazine in 1998.

Primary Source

Werewolves in Their Youth


Random House

Place Published

New York



Page Count