Chapter Ten

Summary: Chapter Ten

William returns to Kachokolo for the next school term. He finds out that some of the students that he knew died during the famine. When time comes for William to pay school dues, he sneaks into classes, trying to avoid the headmaster. William’s father plans to use the sale of the tobacco, after paying off all of their debts, to pay for William’s school fees. The money from the sale is not enough. William’s father feels that he has failed his son and William fears that he will spend the rest of his life as a poor farmer. The maize crop is excellent, however, and the family gains back much of the weight that they lost during the famine. 

William spends his free time collecting parts from the scrapyard. Many people say that he is crazy and wasting his time. With money that he earned doing day labor, William pays a welder to connect several of the key components of his windmill. Eventually, he has everything assembled except for the generator. He still needs a bicycle dynamo. William’s mother questions how he will find a wife with all his tinkering, but William’s father defends him and tells her to give William a chance. William and Gilbert stop a passing bicyclist and offer to buy the bike’s dynamo. Gilbert pays for it, but William suspects that Gilbert’s family no longer has much money. William is grateful.

Analysis: Chapter Ten

William’s father has always been a legendary figure to his son, and their relationship evolves in Chapter Ten. Trywell expresses regret at his failures, and any hope he had given his son is extinguished. But as William’s own story plays out, his father’s early lessons resonate powerfully with William. Though his father is diminished in his impact, William gets the help he needs from his community. Just as his father had taught him, when people help each other, everyone benefits. In this case, William gets the direct benefit of Gilbert’s generosity. Trywell stands up for his son, and William also gets help from the welder. This help is based on years of mutual support in the community. Even as William gives tortured descriptions of his father’s economic struggles, he still reveres his father because the lessons Trywell taught him spring to life when William’s community comes through for him.