A Struggle Between Greed And Lack Of Wisdom In Esther Forbes’ Novel Johnny Tremain
Universal Concepts:Johnny Tremain
In the story“Johnny Tremain”,by Esther Forbes, the main character, Johnny Tremain, struggles with his arrogance and selfishness prior to the Revolutionary War. Several concepts, like pride, disillusionment, and loss, are introduced by events that the protagonist encounters such as his work as a silversmith,his crippled hand, and the loss of Rab.These concepts are further reinforced by the thoughts and actions of Johnny Tremain in response to events.
Johnny Tremain displayed the concept of pride in the story when he was making a handle of a silver basin for John Hancock, a wealthy man from Boston. This was shown in the passage, “By Sunday noon, Johnny, following Mr. Revere’s advice and his curve, had got the model of the handle exactly right. He could tell with his eyes closed. It felt perfect.” After experiencing many failures, he prided his success in making the handle perfectly. Evidently, we see him seem to “soak” in the satisfaction of his achievement, further displaying the concept of pride in this passage.
The concept of disillusionment was revealed when Johnny Tremain realizes that because of his crippled hand, he cannot pursue his dream of being a silversmith. The text states,”He got up, stood facing them stiffly, his bad hand jammed into his breeches pocket. ’I’m going out,’ he said thickly.” In this section, we can see the reality of the situation dawn on him and affect him mentally. From the disillusionment, we also see him turn away and avoid the comfort from others in the Lapham’s household.
The idea of loss is shown in the novel when Johnny Tremain was informed of Rab’s death.Upon fully facing the truth that Rab was dead, he felt as if,”He had moved off into a strange lonely world where nothing could seem real — not even Rab’s death.” This is significant to note because we can already see that losing Rab had affected Johnny Tremain emotionally and had given us a sense that he finds the experience almost surreal. And with its surreal feel, he also felt the loneliness with the death of Rab, showing the massive impact that losing Rab had.
In the novel, Johnny Tremain’s actions are similar to certain events in my life. Upon being discouraged, Johnny Tremain turns away from the comfort of others. I recall many times when a family member or friend were discouraged, and when I attempt to comfort them, they quickly turn away. In conclusion, the concepts in the novel- pride, disillusionment, and loss- have been displayed through the thoughts and actions of Johnny Tremain.
A Comparative Analysis of Johnny Tremain’s Book and Movie
Books and movies are different and similar in many ways. This book had many purpose for reading it like for entertainment. Reading this book would probably be for an educational purpose. The movie, however, was very entertaining. The book Johnny Tremain is a book and a movie that shows how books and movies can be very different. The book Johnny Tremain and the movie were very different because of the events, the timeline, and the characters
First to show that the book and the movie are different are the events. The Battle of Lexington is one event that was different. In the movie a lot of things were different like, Johnny being there, Johnny’s hand was fixed, there was only seven men at the Battle, and Rab was shot at the Battle. A quote to support this is, “ True, Rab had died.”(Forbes 322) This quote shows that Rab had died in the book, but in the movie he did not die. Another event is The Boston Tea Party. The movie showed that both men and boys were dressed as Indians and taking part of the Tea Party. This is a quote from the book to prove my statement, “ ‘How many other boys could you find for the nights work? Strong and trustworthy boys-for if one once of tea is stolen, the whole thing becomes a robbery-not a protest?’ Rab thought.”(Forbes 149) This shows that rab was gathering up boys for that night, not men like the movie had showed. Last difference for events is Johnny’s accident. In the movie Mrs. Lapham causes his accident, which is different than the book. The quote in the book that can support this is, “Johnny did not see Dove standing on a stool, reaching far back and carefully taking out a cracked crucible.”(Forbes 41) This shows that Dove gave him the cracked crucible so it would mess him up not Mrs. Lapham. So many events were different between the book and the movie that one of the few things that was actually the same was that they happened. Not the exact way that they happened in the book, but they did happen.
Another thing to show the differences is the timeline. The timeline was different between the book and the movie because of the skipped introduction, when Johnny meets Rab, and when Johnny got his hand fixed. First, is the skipped introduction. In the movie they started off when Mr. Lyte orders a sugar basin. In the book Johnny Tremain the whole first 16 pages was the introduction to all the characters. Next, is when Johnny met Rab. In the movie Johnny met Rab while looking for Rab at the printing shop. A quote to show that Johnny did not meet Rab then is, “As he talked to Rab,(the boy had told him that was his name).”(Forbes 60) This quote shows that Rab had met Johnny way later in the book than in the movie. Last, is when Johnny got his hand fixed. Johnny got his hand fixed way before in the movie than in the book. In the movie he got it fixed before Rab went off to war. A quote to support this statement is, “ ‘Yes, I believe you can. You walk about in the fresh air while I get my instruments ready’”(Forbes 316) This shows that Johnny got his hand fixed way at the end of Johnny Tremain the book than he did in the movie. Even though there was many differences in the timeline, there was some similarities like when Johnny got arrested. Those are the differences and similarities in the timeline.
The last thing to explain how the movie and book is different is the characters; some of them were missing, Mrs. Lapham was different and so was Johnny. First is how there was missing characters. In the movie they completely left out Dove, Dusty, Madge, Dorcas, and Isannah. In the book, they spent the first 20 pages talking about them, so obviously they are somewhat important. Second, is how Mrs. Lapham is different. The movie portrayed her as a nice, skinny, quiet woman. In the book it said, “ He pretended not to hear Mrs. Lapham calling from a window to some right back.”(Forbes 45) This shows that Mrs. Lapham is a loud woman if Johnny could hear hr from all the way down the street. Last, is how they showed Johnny. The movie showed him being a short dark haired boy. The book described him as a short blonde haired boy-it even showed a picture of him on the cover of the book. Those are the ways that the characters were different.
In conclusion, the book and the movie were very different. They were different because of the timeline, the characters, and the events. They wer similar in some ways, but not as much as they were different.
The Essence of Change in a Person in Johnny Tremain
In life, nothing will ever stay the same – including yourself. Whether the change is due to uncontrollable circumstances or it is voluntary, it will happen. Esther Forbes’ Johnny Tremain, a historical fiction novel, captures the essence of change in a person. When the book begins, Johnny Tremain, a talented 14-year-old boy, is apprenticed to a silversmith and has a bright future. There is only one problem – Johnny is lofty, egocentric, and selfish. As life takes Johnny on innumerable twists and turns, Johnny transforms from his boyish, immature self to a patriotic, mature young man, willing to sacrifice himself for his country and friends.
At fourteen, Johnny Tremain has everything a teenage boy could ever want. He is the main breadwinner at the Lapham’s, which means that he is much too valuable for chores. He has the respect of the other boys on the wharf, and his future looks very promising. Johnny lives in a small world, his life revolving around work, tormenting Dove, a fellow apprentice, and dreaming of when he will have his own silver business. This small world at the Laphams’ makes him largely unaware of the political strife going on between Britain and America.
However, Johnny’s big mouth and prideful attitude often get him in trouble. Johnny knows he is talented and smart, and he acts it. Everyone at the Laphams’ knows “that Johnny Tremain was boss of the attic, and almost the house” (Forbes 2-3). Johnny’s bossy treatment of the other apprentices draws the criticism of Mr. Lapham, who repeatedly corrects Johnny’s attitude. As well, Johnny’s constant insults provoke Dove’s hatred.
As well as his bad traits, though, Johnny is reliable, loyal and caring. Every morning, Johnny is the one that urges Dove and Dusty out of bed – he is the first one of the apprentices dressed and ready for work, and the first one at the shop each day. Another trait that proves Johnny is a dynamic and round character is loyalty – although Paul Revere offers him a position in his shop, Johnny stays with the Laphams, кecognizing that they need him to provide for the family due to Mr. Lapham’s failing health and Dove and Dusty’s inability. Johnny is also caring. There are several displays of this soft characteristic in Johnny’s hard personality – one would be when Johnny carried Cilla’s sick sister down the wharf to get some fresh air in the middle of the night – although tired, Johnny did so anyway out of pure love for the girls.
Johnny’s life drastically changes due to a crippling accident. Johnny is working on a sugar basin in the workshop. As the time to cast it nears, Johnny orders Dove to pass him a crucible. As revenge for Johnny’s dictatorial behavior that day, Dove hands Johnny a cracked one. The fire’s heat makes the crucible collapse, and Johnny lunges towards the scalding silver. He slips, and his hand comes down on top of the silver. Johnny’s hand will never be the same.
After the burn, Johnny lies in the dark for days, depressed and numb. One glance at his crippled hand is enough to know that his life as a silversmith is over. Life continues, though, and soon Johnny must start looking for new work. However, Johnny вoes not want to find a job and accept his old life as over. He diminishes his chance for work by being rude and arrogant. At the Laphams’, Dusty and Dove make fun of him and Mrs. Lapham throws insults at him. She is convinced Johnny has become a criminal. Although Johnny has done nothing dishonest, “If pushed a little further, he might have taken to crime” (Forbes 116). Johnny has never felt more worthless.
Life eventually brings Johnny to the Observer, where Johnny becomes a horse boy. Johnny’s new life is very different from his old one at the Lapham’s. Mrs. Lorne never ask him to do chores, and he has most of the week to himself – he only delivers papers Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Johnny spends the rest of the week riding express for the Afric Queen, devouring novels in the library, and spending time with Rab.
Rab is Johnny’s role model, and he influences Johnny in countless ways. One thing Rab teaches Johnny is to think before he speaks instead of immediately becoming heated. Johnny realizes that this works to his advantage when a servant accidentally douses him in water. By holding his tongue, he gets some apple pie and meets Sam Adams.
Another change that comes over Johnny is to do with politics. “…he changed from knowing little enough about the political excitement, and caring less, to being an ardent Whig.” (Forbes 109). Johnny becomes politically informed by reading the Observer, listening to the leaders of the revolution, and living with the Lornes.
Johnny experiences a wake-up when he realizes what a beautiful young lady Cilla has become. Johnny realizes that he is now a young man as well, and it is time for him to go courting young ladies. Even so, Johnny never thought that the person who would make his spine tingle would be Cilla, the gawky girl of his childhood.
Throughout Johnny’s entire time at the Observer, the revolution grows in strength and size. Johnny quickly becomes a part of the revolution, taking part in the Boston Tea Party and being a messenger and spy. As the war draws nearer, Johnny’s roles become bigger. At the beginning of Johnny’s life at the Observer, Johnny’s involvement in the revolution is being there for the Observer meetings and running small errands when needed. By the end of the book, right after the war has started, Johnny puts his life at risk without a second thought to relay messages to Dr. Warren. The roles Johnny plays in the war help him realize that he is a part of something much bigger than himself, and that nothing revolves around his comfort and happiness.
Throughout the entire book, Johnny undergoes many changes to his personality. Some are due to the war, others simply due to meeting the right people. Even when faced with the prospect of a restored hand, Johnny thinks only of being able to fire a gun for his country instead of his own personal gains – Johnny is no longer the selfish, arrogant, naive and temperamental young boy he once was. He is a patriotic, selfless, and mature young man. I believe that Johnny is a truly dynamic, round character who we can learn valuable lessons from.
- Forbes, Esther. Johnny Tremain: Harcourt Publishing Company, 1943.
- Johnny Tremain. SparkNotes, https://www.sparknotes.com/lit/johnnytremain/character/johnny-tremain/#targetText=When%20we%20first%20meet%20Johnny,talented%20young%20silversmith%20in%20Boston.
Serious Changes of Jonathan Lyte Tremain in the Novel
In the novel Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, Jonathan Lyte Tremain undergoes some very serious changes. It is this reader’s impression that as Johnny grew up in Boston, Massachusetts in these Pre- Revolutionary War times, he matured much since the time hat he left the Lapham household, until the end of this novel. Some examples of his maturity were:
- When he learned to control his temper.
- When he learned to treat people (especially Cillwith respect.
- When he helped his country in the war against England.
The first example of Johnny’s maturity was when he learned to calm down and hold his temper. He did this by counting to ten every time something angered him. An example of this, is on pages 109+110 when Sam Adams’s housekeeper Sukey throws her dishwater out of her door without looking. She hit Johnny with the dish water when he was riding past. Instead of yelling at her and telling her what h thought of the matter, he counted to ten and found that it had worked. Sukey cleaned him off and gave him a piece of pie. Johnny also was lucky enough to meet Sam Adams while he was sitting in his kitchen. Johnny quickly gathered that patience definitely had its rewards.
the next way that Johnny had matured in this novel was the way he learned to treat others with respect. This mainly applied to Cilla and Isannah. When he was young, he used to insult and tease the two sisters. But after having been away from them for so long, he realized just how much he needed them as friends, or enemies. Johnny used to call Cilla a skinny, pale faced child, but now he though of her as young, and beautiful. He began to like Cilla. He made a promise to them. Every Thursday and Sunday, while delivering his newspapers, he would meet them at the water pump, just to say hi and to talk. They would meet at the water pump because Mrs. Lapham had sold Cilla And Isannah to the Lytes and they were sent there to fetch the drinking water. Unfortunately for all three of them, Johnny could not keep his promise of meeting the two girls at the water pump. His work was very demanding.
Finally, he matured by standing up for his country as they fought the Revolutionary War. While doing this act, Johnny did many other things. One thing that he did was to deliver messages for the British soldiers quartered in Boston, Massachusetts. This all came about when Johnny was hanging around the Afric Queen. The British were looking for someone to deliver their messages who had a fast horse. Having seen Johnny’s horse Goblin ride before, they decided that Johnny would be a good courier. Because they were not aware of the fact that Johnny was a Whig, Johnny was really putting his life in serious jeopardy. Johnny deepened his danger even more when he overcharged the British officers for the job well done. Johnny also went to the edge when he got a musket for Rab. To do this, he had to plan carefully. First, he had to find a soldier who was willing to give up his musket. He found just that in Pumpkin. Pumpkin as a soldier who wanted to get away from the army life. He did not want to die on the battlefield. So, he made a deal with Johnny. Pumpkin was to leave his musket and army attire at a designated location. Johnny was to leave a smock and a straw hat with fake black hair attached to it in that same place. Then, they would exchange. So he would not be caught bearing a musket illegally, Johnny disguised himself in Pumpkin’s army uniform and went back home. when he got home, he gave Rab the musket. Johnny also put himself on the verge of death when the war had began. Rab had gone to fight in the war, and Johnny felt that he may be in trouble or even dead! Once more disguising himself in Pumpkin’s uniform, he went on a mission to find Rab. When he finally found Rab, he was dying from excessive blood loss. Nevertheless, Johnny had acted when he needed to and had succeeded at heart.
In conclusion, It is my opinion that Jonathan Lyte Tremain matured greatly over the coarse of his novel. He learned many valuable lessons in this story that can be used to infinite rewards. That is why this reader believes that Johnny Tremain has matured in this book.