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Making a connection to history through literature


Making a connection to history through literature By Nadine Uremovich Summary of Johnny Tremain Esther Forbes gives readers a glimpse into the life of American ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Making a connection to history through literature

Making a connection to history through
  • By
  • Nadine Uremovich

Summary of Johnny Tremain
  • Esther Forbes gives readers a glimpse into the
    life of American colonists during the beginning
    of the American Revolution in her 269 page
    historical fiction novel, Johnny Tremain. Johnny
    is a rebellious young man who joins the Sons of
    Liberty and participates in events such as The
    Boston Tea Party, Paul Reveres Midnight Ride,
    and the Battle at Lexington and Concord.

The Lead Characters
  • Johnny Tremain
  • A very talented fourteen-year-old silver-smith
    apprentice. He burns his hand and loses all hope
    of becoming an artisan. As he struggles with how
    he will fit into society, he meets Rab. They
    become good friends, and Rab introduces Johnny to
    the Sons of Liberty. Johnny and Rab play
    important roles in gathering and transmitting
    information for the Patriots.

The Lead Characters
  • Rab Silsbee
  • A calm and reflective sixteen- year-old newspaper
    printer. Rab prints the Boston Observer, a
    newspaper that propagates the Patriot cause.
    When he meets Johnny, he does not offer pity like
    many others. He accepts Johnnys disability and
    helps Johnny realize that his crippled hand does
    not define Johnny. Rab draws Johnny into the
    Patriot cause.

Supporting Characters
  • The Lapham family
  • Mr. Lapham
  • Master Silver-smith
  • Mrs. Lapham
  • Madge Lapham
  • Oldest daughter
  • Dorcas Lapham
  • 2nd daughter
  • Cilla Lapham
  • 3rd daughter, Johnnys friend. She adores
  • Isannah Lapham
  • Youngest daughter. Becomes tied to the Lytes

Johnnys Blood Relatives
  • Lavinia Lyte Tremain
  • Johnnys mother, she died when he was young. She
    taught Johnny how to read.
  • Charles Tremain
  • Johnnys father, he died before Johnny knew him.
  • Jonathon Lyte
  • Wealthy Boston merchant and Johnnys great uncle.
  • Lavinia Lyte
  • Jonathon Lytes spoiled daughter. She takes
    Isannah from the Laphams.

The Whigs
  • Johnny meets up with some of the most famous
    revolutionaries. Their fictional roles in Johnny
    Tremain align with history.

Samuel Adams
  • Sam Adams organized the Sons of Liberty. He
    published many articles opposing British tax

John Hancock
  • One of the wealthiest men in Boston. Like many
    of the wealthy, he opposed the new taxes that the
    British were imposing on colonists.

Doctor Joseph Warren 
  • A doctor who became involved in the Patriot
    cause. He joined Sam Adams, John Hancock, and
    Paul Revere. He sent Paul Revere on his midnight

Paul Revere
  • A member of the Sons of Liberty. On a midnight
    ride, Revere informed colonists in Lexington and
    Concord that the British were coming.

James Otis 
  • An advocate for colonial rights. He became
    mentally unstable when he was attacked for
    propagating the Patriot cause in a newspaper

What can we learn from Johnny?
  • The types of jobs people had in the 1770s
  • How people learned their trade
  • What education was like
  • Social Class
  • What life was like in the 1770s
  • How the conflict affected colonists
  • Literary Connections

Working for a living Some of the colonial
occupations are stated outright and some can be
  • Silver smith
  • Butcher
  • Clockmaker
  • Tailor
  • Barber
  • Bookbinder
  • Doctor
  • Printer
  • Cobbler
  • Carpenter
  • Farmer
  • Captain
  • Sailor
  • Porter
  • Rigger
  • Doctor
  • Merchant
  • Lawyer
  • Clerk
  • Coachman
  • Minister/deacon
  • Constable

How did people learn their trade?
  • It was very common for people to start out as an

What is an Apprentice?
  • Johnny Tremain was a silversmiths apprentice.
  • In 1773, it was common for people to serve a
    master as an apprentice in order to learn a
    trade. An apprenticeship is like going to
    technical college.
  • An apprentice served his master for seven years.
    After seven years, his educational debt was paid
    and the apprentice could be his own master.

  • None of the children in the story went to school.
  • Colonial governments did not require children to
    go to school.

  • Aside from the master, Mr. Lapham, Johnny was the
    best reader in the house. Mr. Lapham required
    the children to read verses from the Bible.
  • When Johnny read, he never stumbled on words, and
    he liked to listen to the words roll from his
    lips. He was a very dramatic reader.
  • How did Johnny learn how to read?
  • The book says that his mother made sure that
    Johnny knew how to read before she died.

  • Who was Johnnys mother?
  • Because she taught her son how to read, that
    tells us something about her background.
  • Johnnys mother must have come from a wealthy
  • Only wealthy families educated their children.
    Any ideas why?

Social class
  • Upper class
  • Could afford to sustain the family without the
    labor of their children.
  • Children from wealthy families received a formal
  • Everyone but the Upper Class
  • Needed the labor of their children to financially
    sustain the family.
  • Children learned the family trade and household
  • No time for school.
  • The characters in Johnny Tremain
  • Were not wealthy. The children learned the
    family trade and household chores.

Life in the 1770s
  • Land Travel
  • Horse
  • Horse and wagon
  • Walking
  • Transatlantic travel
  • Ocean vessel
  • How is that different from today?

Home life
  • In 1773, there were a lot of animals in the city
  • Horses provided transportation and performed a
    lot of heavy work.
  • Hens and cows for eggs and milk
  • Cats took care of rodents
  • How is that different from today?

  • Did you notice that when Johnny was looking for
    work that there were a lot of different types of
  • People went to the butcher for meat
  • The cobbler for shoes
  • The tailor for clothes
  • The clockmaker for a clock
  • The carpenter for furniture
  • How is that different from the way we shop?

Tories and Patriots
  • Tories
  • Colonists who supported King George.
  • Merchant Lyte was a Tory.
  • Whigs
  • British colonists who opposed English imperial
    policy (e.g. Stamp Act, Townsend Act)
  • Paul Revere, James Otis, John Hancock, and
    Joseph Warren were Whigs.

The power of print
  • The Whigs were very effective at using the
    printing press to propagate the Patriot cause.
  • Literate adults could read the articles.
  • Illiterate adults took meaning from political
  • What forms of media shape our world view today?

A cause worth fighting for
  • The Sons of Liberty met in secret to avoid
    British persecution.
  • The Sons of Liberty were wealthy colonists who
    risked losing all of their wealth in order to be
    relieved of British tyranny.
  • Printers, carpenters, butchers, and farmers
    transformed into soldiers. Many gave their lives
    for freedom.

Conflict and colonists
  • Colonists formed militias to stand up against the
    British soldiers.

The Turning Point
  • It is important to remember that it took a long
    time for the colonists to rebel. Forbes is
    writing about a turning point.

Important Literary Details
  • Johnny starts out as a promising silver-smith who
    is wounded by the silver which he loves.
  • The colonists start out as a promising extension
    of England until suppressed by the country they
  • In the end, Dr. Warren cuts the scar tissue on
    Johnnys hand to free him from his wound.
  • The American colonists cut ties with the English

  • Forbes, E. Johnny Tremain. 1943. Dell Publishing
    New York, NY.
  • Images
  • http//

The End