Throughout his teens, Franklin developed a number of new ideas, including vegetarianism, which he practices religiously for a brief period. He also adopted a skepticism towards religion through his readings. When others complained of his arrogance, he made efforts to become more humble, speaking "with seeming diffidence."

In 1720, Ben's brother James started the New England Courant, which according to Franklin is the second newspaper in America. Ben worked as a delivery boy. Meanwhile, he worked hard at writing. When he published anonymously one of his articles and overheard his brother praising it (not knowing Ben had written it), Ben developed much confidence in his style. However, he and James often argued often over trifling matters. When James was jailed for political reasons, Ben had the chance to take over the paper briefly—a job which Ben held in name even after James was released under the stipulation that he could no longer work on the paper. After another disagreement with James, however, Ben suddenly broke his contract and quit his job. James immediately instructed the other printers in Boston not to hire his brother, and as a result, Ben realizes that he would have to travel to a different city if he wished to find work.

At age 17, Ben secretly leaves home and traveled to New York City. He finds no work there, but learns that he can get a job in Philadelphia working for a printer named Andrew Bradford. His journey to Philadelphia is eventful as he gets caught in a storm, during which he saved the life of an intoxicated Dutchman, who nearly drowned. The boat dropped him off near Burlington, about 18 miles from Philadelphia. He finally arrived in the city on October 6, 1723 in the Market Street Wharf.

Wandering around, Franklin stumbled into a Quaker meeting near the market. One of the Quakers showed him a place to stay the night, and the following day, he goes to Bradford's to find work. Although Bradford can provide him with housing, Franklin is disappointed to learn that he can offer no work. Instead he sets up Franklin with a man named Keimer who runs a different printing shop in town. Ben soon comes to think that both men are "poorly qualified" as printers. Before long, he moves in with a man named John Read, whose daughter, Deborah, Franklin will later marry.

Franklin then goes about befriending other Philadelphia youth, although he stills writes to Collins often. He forgets the rest of Boston until he receives a letter from Robert Holmes, his brother-in-law, asking him to return. When Franklin wrote an elegant letter back explaining why he would not return to Boston, Holmes showed the letter to Pennsylvania Governor William Keith , who is moved by Franklin's strong writing skills. Keith resolves to help Franklin set up a printing house, and he visits Franklin at Keimer's office to discuss such plans. They agree that Franklin will receive help from the government, but he must also receive financial assistance from his father. In order to request such help, Franklin returns to Boston for seven months, where he meets with his father, Josiah. His father refuses Ben's request for financial help because he deems him too young. Josiah promises to help Ben when he turns 21. Meanwhile, Ben learns that his brother James is still very bitter over Ben's resignation.

Ben decides to return to Philadelphia, this time with Collins in tow. Before getting back, he visits his brother in Rhode Island, and he nearly falls victim to two thieves posing as loose women on a boat to New York. In New York, he meets up with Collins and New York Governor Burnet, who takes an interest in Franklin's book collection. Collins has become a drunkard, and Franklin loans him a large amount money on their trip to Philadelphia. When Collins refuses to take his turn rowing the boat, a fight ensues, and Collins is thrown overboard by Franklin. Collins is humiliated and decides to go to work in Barbados rather than Philadelphia. He never sees Franklin again, and never repays him the borrowed money.

Back in Philadelphia, Franklin tells Keith of his father's refusal to provide financial support, and so Keith agrees to support Franklin himself. Franklin, however, decides first to travel to England so that he may make contacts in the bookselling and stationery fields. Meanwhile, he works for Keimer, with whom he practices debate and vegetarianism until Keimer gives up. He also begins courting Miss Read, but his upcoming trip to England prevents him from marrying her. He then befriends three men—Charles Osborne, Joseph Watson and James Ralph—all of whom are "lovers of reading." Together they hold poetry writing contests and various debates. Ralph will go on to achieve some poetic fame, although he is mostly forgotten today. Franklin decides that Ralph will accompany him on his trip to England.


Franklin mentions in this section one of his "first errata," when he quits his job with his brother. Franklin's referencing his errors blends in well with the overall theme of self-improvement. Franklin mentions them for the purpose of shoing others how not to live their lives. He also points them out as a means of showing humility. He wants to make it clear that he has not acted perfectly in all situations, and he wishes to indicate that he recognizes the mistakes he has made during his life.

There are times in his Autobiography when Franklin sounds like he is trying to prove his virtues to his readers. In his commitment to practice vegetarianism with Keimer, he tells how he was able to maintain the diet because of his great determination. Franklin points out that Keimer was unable to keep up the practice. Thus, Franklin demonstrates his own skills of determination to readres by lettingthem know that another person in a similar situation was not able to accomplish what he was able to. Franklin's use of Keimer to show his own virtue is particularly interesting because Keimer holds a position of authority over Franklin as his boss.

Franklin, as we have learned, does not think much of Keimer as a printer. Therefore, criticizing Keimer in the Autobiography can be seen as a way to get revenge on Keimer for all time. Many literary critics have described Franklin's Autobiography as a prototypical revenge narrative. The book itself outlines all the ways in which Franklin rises up to become better than the people who were in superior positions to him earlier on in his life.

Franklin writes about his conflicts with his brother James, who thought himself superior. As a means to get revenge, Franklin goes to Philadelphia, where he will print the most successful newspaper in the colonies. Franklin gets revenge on all the Royal Governors who looked down on him by becoming a great political figure himself and then condemning them in his book. He gets revenge on John Collins by immortalizing him for all time him as a drunkard who never achieved anything close to what Franklin achieved because he lacked Franklin's work ethic.

Franklin even admits to a type of "aristocracy worship" when he discusses how pleased he was and how special he felt when he met the colonial Governors and see them take notice of him. Later on in life Franklin will assume the same types of prominent positions as those governors, so that (as some critics argue) he could demonstrate that he ended up being just as good or better than the aristocrats he had "worshiped" early on in life.

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