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Johnny Tremain

Esther Forbes

Chapters VI–VII

Chapter V: The Boston Observer

Chapters VI–VII, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary: Chapter VI: Salt-Water Tea

That worst of Plagues, the detested tea shipped for this Port by the East India Company, is now arrived in the Harbour: the hour of destruction, of manly opposition to the machinations of Tyranny, stares you in the face.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Many American colonists, most notably Johnny’s powerful new Whig friends, resent the fact that England levies taxes on them without allowing them to represent themselves in government. Therefore, when England sends a shipment of tea with a small tax attached, the Boston Observers schedule a meeting to discuss their next steps. Johnny goes to the house of each member, giving the summons for the meeting, which is encoded as a newspaper bill. Josiah Quincy and John Adams prevent Johnny from notifying James Otis about the meeting, even though he is the founder of the organization, because Otis is mentally unstable. When Johnny informs Doctor Warren of the meeting, the kind physician asks Johnny if he can examine his hand, but Johnny refuses. Meanwhile, the Sons of Liberty post placards calling for opposition to the shipment of tea. Johnny is excited by the hubbub, but when a Whig mob brutally beats a Tory right outside the Observer shop, he feels sick and frightened.

At the meeting, the Observers decide to the dump the offending tea into Boston Harbor if the governor refuses to send the ships back to London. Rab is asked to recruit trustworthy boys for the mission but is asked to keep the mission a secret. Johnny asks Rab if he will be included in this trusted group of boys. Rab responds by telling Johnny to practice chopping logs so that he will be able to chop tea chests when the time comes. The governor refuses to send the ships back to London, and the Boston Tea Party takes place as planned. Johnny and the other participants dress up as Native Americans, board the ships at night, chop open chests of tea, and toss the contents into the Boston Harbor. Johnny notices Dove among the participants. Instead of throwing the tea overboard, Dove is stealing tea, thereby undermining the moral high ground of the political protesters. As punishment, Rab tosses Dove into the water.

Summary: Chapter VII: The Fiddler’s Bill

Only that a man can stand up.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

England closes the port of Boston until the colonists pay for the tea, and British soldiers occupy the city. Commerce grinds to a halt, but the city refuses to be starved into submission. Lorne and other printers continue to print Whig papers despite the danger of treason charges. Local militias form and begin drilling with old, worn-out firearms. Many of the British soldiers sympathize with the colonists, and many others would prefer to be with their families than in Boston. Meanwhile, other colonies send shipments of food by land to ensure that Boston does not starve.

Johnny enters Lorne’s shop one afternoon to find Cilla doing a sketch for the Observer. Her easy manner with Rab makes him intensely jealous. Cilla reports that Lavinia, Lyte’s daughter, became so enchanted with Isannah that she requested that the child live with her. Mrs. Lapham was happy to oblige, but Isannah refused to go without Cilla. Thus, Cilla now works as a servant in the Lyte house, while Lavinia parades Isannah around Boston high society like a prized pet. Johnny asks Cilla if he can see her when he delivers the Observer to the Lytes. Cilla is noncommittal in her response. Rab walks her home, much to Johnny’s dismay.

Johnny discovers that Dove is working as a stable boy for the English Colonel Smith. The British stable boys entertain themselves by bullying Dove. Although Johnny does not like Dove, he protects him when he can. His old hatred for Dove has disappeared, as has his resentment of his other old enemies. As an act of goodwill, he hires Mr. Tweedie to mend his riding spurs. While at the Lapham home, he dis-covers that Madge has fallen in love with a British sergeant named Gale.

Colonel Smith’s assistant, Lieutenant Stranger, tries to commandeer Goblin for his boss. Johnny lets the lieutenant ride Goblin. Meanwhile, Johnny helps Lydia, the black washerwoman, hang some sheets. He and Lydia let a sheet flap in the wind to frighten Goblin. Goblin throws Stranger, so Johnny gets to keep his horse. Stranger respects Johnny’s love for Goblin as well as his cleverness, so he offers to teach him to jump hurdles. Johnny’s stunt also wins the respect of the British stable boys, who help Johnny find food for Goblin when supplies run low.

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Beggars cannot be choosers

by DanDan0101, January 14, 2014

When you are poor, you do not have the power of choosing.


18 out of 33 people found this helpful

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