In The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, what happens to MacPherson's idealism after 20 years of teaching students like Duddy? 

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. MacPherson has taught for twenty years, and still is idealistic about his role in the proper education of students. He is described as a "socialist" of some sort, being very concerned with moral attitudes and reaching his students through rational arguments rather than with punishment. He makes a point of never beating boys for disruption, based in his attitudes, but he is seen as apathetic by the other teachers:

"Strapping," Mr. MacPherson began in a small voice, "has never been a solution to..."

"Sure, sure," Mr. Coldwell said, "but until your socialist messiah comes along, I'd like my sleep undisturbed by obscene phone calls."
(Richler, The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz, Google Books)

Later, after a prank phone call results in MacPherson's wife dying, he rethinks all of his attitudes. He starts to behave in a deliberately antagonistic manner, apparently believing that the young boys now lack any moral clarity or personal responsibility. Instead of raising an honest generation, he sees his influence as meaningless in their lives, and dismisses Duddy with the phrase, "You're going to go far, Kravitz." He means this cynically; in his eyes, Duddy has the ability to trick others into going along with him without ever taking responsibility for his actions, and that means that Duddy will succeed in the world, since morality and honesty are a thing of the past.

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The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

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