Johnny Tremain


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The molten silver was bubbling in the cracked crucible. It started to spill all over its sides leaking down onto the floor. At first he felt nothing, then a great sudden pang. The pain was excruciating. His body collapsed on the floor with his hand following behind.

     In the beginning of this book, a terrible accident befalls Johnny. One of his hands is badly burnt from an accident and he is scarred for life. He will never become a silversmith, a profession he aspires to be. With a shattered dream, he journeys out into the world of Boston to find himself another trade. There he meets Rab who is a sixteen-year old lad of few words. He is nevertheless calm, kind and caring. He is dedicated to his work at the Boston Observer. He helps Johnny find a job as a newspaper delivery boy for the Observer. He has a purpose in life and firmly believes in fighting against injustice brought on the American people by the British. He is a member of the “Sons of Liberty”. It is through this organization that Johnny’s life crisscrosses with some of the prominent members of the “Sons of Liberty”. First he runs errands for them and later he is actually involved with the activities of the organization. He helps by gathering supporters and chopping up the tea at the Boston Tea Party. He loves the excitement and the adventures. He never doubts his physical courage till one day when he witnesses the shooting of a British deserter by the firing squad. The shooting badly unnerves him. He feels his own inadequacy. He begins to question if he really is a coward at heart.

Johnny Tremain goes through a lot of change and growth throughout the book. In the beginning he is a smart, confident and hard-working teenager. He doesn’t have patience and despises his fellow apprentices whom he thinks are indolent and inferior. It is his pride of power that makes him rashly promise John Hancock that he can deliver the sugar basin. In an attempt to finish the basin on time he gets in an accident because of a cracked crucible passed to him by Dove. Dove wants to get even with Johnny for being treated badly by him. After the incident Johnny becomes very conscious of his disability. He realizes that he is not as valuable as before.

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He has a very low self-esteem. Feeling being rejected by his master and people around him he goes out into the city of Boston looking for jobs. There he met Rab. His life starts to take a major turn. He admires his friend’s calm and nerveless strength. He tries to emulate Rab. He becomes a voracious reader. Before he was a very narrow-minded person and his only ambition was to become the most successful silversmith in his town. Now he has a broader vision. He throws himself whole-heartedly into the courses of the “Sons of Liberty”. He believes he is ready to die for the freedom of America. But one day he comes face to face with death. He saw Pumpkin being shot by the British. He was shattered totally. He doesn’t understand why someone who wants something as simple as a farm and several cows deserves to die. He questions if he is really as brave as he thinks he is. Then comes the long-feared news that Rab has been wounded severely during the siege of Lexington. The meeting with Rab on his deathbed makes Johnny understand the true meaning of “some of us will die so other men can stand up”. Rab has died for a worthy cause for the sake of people after him. At that moment he is convinced that he really wants to carry Rab’s unused musket with his own right hand. He asks Dr. Warren to cut his fused hand to free the thumb. He is now ready to fight against the Lobsterbacks.

I believe the author is trying to convey the message that we all have our own weaknesses. A lot of times our greatest enemies are ourselves. We are often brought down by our own arrogance, pride, ignorance and cowardice. In the process of growing up we might stumble many times. But as long as we are brave enough to accept our shortcomings and learn our lessons, we will emerge as stronger characters.

I can relate this book very much to my own life. Reading this book, I can see a lot of myself in Johnny. Like Johnny before his accident I was quit narrow-minded, impatient and arrogant. I was living in an isolated world. Since I was doing fine in school, I didn’t see the need for improvement. I became quite complacent. Then several months ago, at the urge of my parents, I started to apply for admission to several private high schools. I went to their open houses and spent time talking with the admission officers and students. I then took the SSAT test. The whole process humbled me. I realized how little I knew and that there are a lot of smarter people out in this world. They do not only do the minimum but go a step further and strive for excellence. This experience broadens my perspective. I hope from now on I will work harder and be a more responsible person. This will be my New Year resolution.


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