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The story is a modern cautionary tale of humility and gratitude, as well as compassion; how can anyone know these feelings unless one has walked in the shoes of someone less fortunate? Both Tom and Edward have difficulties in their lives. Tom is poor and abused by his family, whereas Edward feels controlled by his father and bored with having to be serious at all times. After they have switched places, and then must remain so because no one believes their stories, Tom can enjoy the comforts of life at court, but misses being able to play outdoors. Edward, on the other hand, must learn to navigate the perils of life on the streets and has a few close calls. But every time he tangles with ne'er-do-wells, he manages to take away a lesson of kindness, and vows to do better by his subjects. In Chapter XIX, "The Prince and the Peasants," he is moved by how trusting the little children are, and swears he will honor them when he becomes king, because they trusted him unconditionally and showed him kindness that their elders did not.
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