Split Cherry Tree

by Jesse Stuart

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In "Split Cherry Tree," how does a typical day in Dave's home begin?

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In the short story "Split Cherry Tree" by Jesse Stuart, a boy from the hills named Dave is the first of his family to attend high school. After he and some classmates break a cherry tree by climbing up in it together, he has to stay after school and work to pay off the debt for the tree. This upsets his father because Dave is late getting home to do his chores. His angry father decides to go with him to school the next day to talk to Professor Herbert, the teacher. As Herbert takes Dave's father around to see what the high school is like, the father gradually changes his mind and comes to appreciate the school and Professor Herbert.

As Stuart describes all the work that farmers in the hill country have to do every day, it's easy to understand why Dave's father gets upset when he is late. Feeding and caring for the animals, plowing, and other chores occupies Dave's father from early morning until well into the evening. Before and after school, Dave has plenty of jobs to do as well.

Stuart describes how the day begins on the morning that Dave's father accompanies him to school, and we can assume that most or all days begin the same as this one. Dave's father gets up at four o'clock in the morning to build fires in the stove and in the fireplace. He then wakes up Dave's mother, and she prepares breakfast. While breakfast is cooking, Dave and his father go out to the barn to feed the animals and milk the cows. By the time they get back, breakfast is ready. When they are finished, it's time for Dave to get ready for school. Presumably his father would then head outside for his daily work on the farm.

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