Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

Philip Malloy’s dream is to join Coach Jamison’s track team. Unfortunately, he is ineligible for the team because of his low grade in Miss Narwin’s English class. Philip is further upset when he learns that Miss Narwin is to be his new homeroom teacher. Rather than sit down and talk with Miss Narwin as Coach Jamison suggests, Philip hatches a plan that he thinks will get him transferred out of both Miss Narwin’s homeroom and her English class. During homeroom, when school policy dictates that students are to “stand at respectful silent attention” during the playing of the national anthem, Philip loudly hums along. When Miss Narwin reprimands Philip, he insists that his previous homeroom teacher allowed him to hum along because of his patriotic feelings. When her attempts to talk to Philip lead nowhere, Miss Narwin sends him to the principal’s office. Philip asserts to Dr. Joseph Pelleni, the assistant principal, that he has a patriotic desire to sing the national anthem during homeroom. The next day, Philip again hums along and is sent to the principal’s office; he is given a two-day suspension from school for his failure to follow stated rules. Philip maintains to his mother that Miss Narwin dislikes him and that the whole situation is her fault.

Philip’s parents are easily led to believe that Miss Narwin is to blame. Philip’s father is under pressure at work to be more productive. He is frustrated by needing his job and being unable to protest his supervisor’s demeaning attitude. Philip’s treatment at school provides an arena in which Mr. Malloy can find vindication. Philip’s assertions that his teacher is against patriotism motivate his father to take the story to his next-door neighbor, Ted Griffen, a candidate for a seat on the local school board.

Mr. Griffen is quite responsive to Mr....

(The entire section is 756 words.)