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Literature / Mr Splitfoot

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Published in 2016 and written by Samantha Hunt, Mr. Splitfoot tells two different stories which take place fourteen years apart and each take place in New York State.

The chapters shift between being about Ruth and Nat, a pair of seventeen-year-old orphans who have been best friends almost their entire lives, and being about Ruth's niece, a young woman named Cora, who finds herself reuniting with Ruth after having only met her once several years before.



  • Abusive Parents: Ruth's mother was fine to Eleanor, but abusive to Ruth
  • Adorkable: Cora's signature traits are her endearing awkwardness, somewhat self-deprecating humor, and really not knowing when to be quiet.
  • Always Someone Better: Cora believes she can never be as brave as her mother was. Ruth proves her wrong.
  • Anti-Hero: Nat can either be loyal and kind or selfish and sometimes even cruel depending on the moment, and generally seems to think Ruth should listen to him above all else, but when it comes to it he actually does care about her more then anything, including himself. And he suggests they turn all the houses in the mountains into homes for the orphans to come live in once they come of age, and he ends up being the one to go forth with the idea.
    • Mr. Bell is also this; he first appears to be enigmatic and clearly untrustworthy, and this does prove to be correct considering that he originally planned to let Zeke destroy Ruth, (which, to be fair would save several other people from Zeke's cruelty) but he ends up falling in love with Ruth ad doing the right thing.
  • At the Crossroads: Ruth takes Cora to a hotel between life and death
  • Badass Adorable: Cora is badass Adorkable
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: This how Cora and Nat feel about religion.
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  • Betty and Veronica: Ruth (Archie), has to choose between Nat, who despite being a Byronic Hero still plays Betty due to being her childhood best friend and having taken a level in kindness, and Mr. Bell (Veronica), the strange new man with many secrets who shows up to turn them into criminals.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ruth is nice to the point of almost being an Extreme Doormat, but if you do something foolish or evil, watch out.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Cora is this to some extent, although her silliness is more due to her snark and awkwardness then to a silly personality, being as she is actually very cynical.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Turns out Ruth was dead the whole time, but Nat and Cora meet in the mountains and fall in love and raise Cora's baby.
  • Brains and Brawn: Nat's the brains to Ceph's brawn.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Cora starts out as this; she went to a good collage, is obviously very smart and capable, and yet she has chosen to do very little with her life and realizes this about herself, yet does nothing she change it which bothers her endlessly.
    • Nat is brilliant and lazy; he's very smart and does a lot of lying around, but his laziness doesn't appear to interfere with his brilliance.
  • Brooding Boy, Gentle Girl: Ruth is the Gentle Girl to Nat's Brooding Boy
  • Byronic Hero: Both Nat and Mr. Bell
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Nat will not tell Ruth that he loves her. He just won't. Borderline denies when she asks. But he clearly does, much to her pleasure.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: Cora loses her cell phone early on.
  • Chekhov's Gun: At one point, Cora and Ruth find themselves swimming in a beach; Cora gets annoyed because everyone freaks out when she gets in but not when Ruth does. She thinks it's because she's pregnant. It's not.
  • City of Weirdos: Cora and Ruth find themselves in several
  • Con Man: Mr. Bell, and Nat and Ruth after they join him
  • Cool Aunt: This is how Cora viewed Ruth when she was eleven and Ruth seventeen
  • Creepy Child: Cora and Ruth meet a whole group of creepy kids; some siblings who every day like to make fun of their overweight neighbor for fun.
  • Cult: The Etherists.
  • The Cynic: Nat
    • Cora, as well, to a lesser extent
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Mr. Bell's
  • Dead All Along: It turns out Ruth died when she was only seventeen—but she came back fourteen years later just to lead Cora to Nat. After this, Ruth returns to the world of the dead
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cora pretty always has a snarky comment for everything and everyone.
  • Delinquent: Nat apparently burned down one of his group homes as age five. And, several years later, when he and Ruth are seventeen, they start working with a Con Man.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Cora thinks she's a waste of space and can never be as brave as her mother was. She chooses to go on the journey with Ruth to try to prove herself wrong—although she doesn't seem to realize this is why she's doing it.
  • Ditzy Genius: Cora is skilled, clever, sarcastic, sneaky, and certainly intelligent—but she frequently abandons common sense when she gets angry; often getting into fights and arguments with people it would be wiser to avoid
  • Don't Split Us Up: Eleanor and Ruth really didn't want to be split up when Eleanor turned eighteen and Ruth was only five. Later, Nat and Ruth, who pretend to be siblings, are about to turn eighteen and have the same fear.
  • Fat Idiot: Ceph.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Socially-awkward Stepford Snarker Mood-Swinger Cora is sanguine; determined, relentless Mr. Bell is choleric; logical lone wolf Nat is melancholic; and loyal, kind-hearted Ruth is phlegmatic.
  • Freudian Excuse: Nat is cold, aloof, cynical, and frankly quite a bit of a jerk and a Control Freak to Ruth, but it's because his mother died when he was a young child and he's born forced to grow up in a horrible orphanage, and Ruth is really the only person who cares about him.
    • Cora is having an affair, she still lives with her mother, and she's Brilliant, but Lazy, but it's all because she believes she's wasting her life and can never be as good as mother is, which makes her to afraid to try to be a success.
  • Freudian Trio: Hard-hearted, arrogant, Insufferable Genius Nat is the superego, naive, Extreme Doormat Ruth is the id, and charismatic Con Man Mr. Bell is the ego.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Nat and Ruth's group home, Love of Christ, definitely applies
  • Embarrassing First Name: Mr. Bell pretends this is the reason he refuses to go by 'Carl'
  • Extreme Doormat: Ruth, at first
  • Guile Hero: Mr. Bell, and Nat while living in the orphanage
  • Guilt Complex: Cora feels very, very guilty about not using her potential better and considers herself a total failure.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Nat becomes this when Ruth and Bell get married.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Cora. She's Hot-Blooded and never backs down from a fight.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: It takes Cora the whole book to figure out that she's worth something.
  • Hot-Blooded: Cora is short-tempered and not afraid to show it. She is perfectly willing to talk back to anyone—including police officers.
  • Hidden Depths: Cora discovers she's a lot of a better, stronger person then she thought she was.
  • Idiot Ball: Nat, generally an Insufferable Genius, briefly becomes an idiot when he nearly gets himself and Ruth captured by Zeke.
  • Inn Between the Worlds: Ruth takes Cora to a hotel that turns out to be the crossroads between life and death.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Cora and Nat. Cora is in the middle of an affair (while her lover's wife is in a mental hospital) with a guy she hates, because of her own personal insecurities. But when she becomes pregnant she'll do whatever it takes to save her unborn child, she's brave and relentless and won't stand by when people are doing something wrong.
    • Nat is harsh, cynical, arrogant, and sometimes even cruel—but he truly does care about Ruth and he tries to do the right thing. In the end, he becomes much kinder.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Subverted with Nat. He is really very smart—but not as smart as thinks he is.
    • Father Arthur is this trope completely.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Ruth and Nat OWN this trope. No one at the orphanage can believe they're not together, but they think it would be weird, because after all they have always called themselves sisters (despite Nat being a guy)
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Zeke and his son Mr. Bell
  • Loser Protagonist: Everyone Cora meets seems to consider Cora to be a loser—she doesn't really disagree with them, although she would very, very much like too.
  • Magic Realism: It's a real world setting—Ruth and Cora even go to Walmart at one point—but magic is around and everyone knows but no one seems to care.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Mr. Bell is the Manly Man to Nat's Sensitive Guy.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Ruth's marriage with Bell, although they fall in love for real later
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Starts out as this—Nat might be able to talk to the dead, he certainly seems to be, but everyone thinks that's amazing and impossible. It later goes into full Magic Realism when the Etherists clearly practice magic and nobody thinks twice about it.
  • The Mistress: Cora is this to Lord
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: How Nat feels about his Ruth, despite their being Not Blood Siblings
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nat nearly gets himself, Ruth, and Mr. Bell taken by Zeke due to a rare moment of stupidity.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Nat and Ruth
  • Only Sane Man: Nat and Cora are both this, although never together as Cora's chapters take place fourteen years after Nat's (although they meet and even get married at the end of the book)
  • The Outside World: Nat and Ruth have never known much outside the orphanage
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Nat and Ruth are the same gender and love each other more then anything, but they aren't in love in that way.
  • Plucky Girl: Cora
    Cora: I don't believe in 'real men' I also don't believe in the lottery or in God
  • Pregnant Badass: After her car breaks down, Cora walks across New York State while expecting a baby.
    • When Eleanor was eighteen and pregnant with Cora, she managed to get off the streets and build a life for herself and her daughter.
  • Promotion to Parent: Eleanor is thirteen years older then her sister Ruth, and has to take the role of parent when they are sent to an orphanage.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ruth's the blue to Cora's red.
  • Silent Snarker: Ruth manages to judge Cora without even talking
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Cora—she's not more awkward in social situations then any other times, but she doesn't need to be. She's always awkward.
  • Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Cora does some questionable things, but because of her own insecurities and the feeling that she's wasting her life. She becomes heroic later on, though.
  • Skilled, but Naïve: Mr. Bell's opinion on Ruth and Nat
  • The Slacker: Cora before her Character Development
  • The Smart Guy: Nat takes this role in his trio with Ruth and Bell.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: Cora definitely did not want to become pregnant with Lord's baby.
  • Stepford Snarker: Cora makes sarcastic comments and tells jokes to hide her fear of wasting her life.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Eleanor was eighteen when she had Cora
  • They Call Me Mr Tibbs:Don't call Mr. Bell 'Carl'—call him Mr. Bell. Even when he and Ruth get married, he still won't let her call him Carl
  • Took a Level in Badass: Cora goes from a Brilliant, but Lazy slacker who still lived with her mother, to fierce, relentless woman who would do anything to protect her unborn child.
    • Ruth starts out as an Extreme Doormat who will believe anything Nat says, but becomes more strong-willed and independent as the story goes on—ultimately standing up to Zeke himself.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Nat becomes much kinder as the story goes on. He starts out as an Anti-Hero and borderline Jerk with a Heart of Jerk, but becomes a full-fledged hero by the end.
  • The Unfavorite: A very cynical example. Ruth and Eleanor's mother was always fine to Eleanor, but abused Ruth.
  • The Voiceless: In the 'fourteen years later' half of the chapters, Ruth seems to be able to talk, but she never speaks to Cora, despite clearly caring about her and wanting her help her.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Ruth takes Cora on the journey across New York State to show Cora that she would be a good mother.

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