In "Split Cherry Tree," how does Professor Herbert defend his decision to take the students to a field trip, and how does he defend his decision to punish Dave?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Professor Herbert defends his decision to take the students to Eif Crabtree's orchard by saying that the members of his science class were looking for snakes, toads, lizards, butterflies, and dry timothy grass to place in an incubator in order to raise protozoa. He also defends his decision to have Dave sweep floors after school so that he can work off the share he must pay for the broken cherry tree of Mr. Crabtree since Dave did not have the money as the others did.

But, when Dave's father learns that his son has come home late because he has been working off the dollar that he owes for being one of the boys who has split the tree belonging to Mr. Crabtree, Luster Sexton feels that his son has been treated unfairly because they are poor:

"Poor man's son, huh...I'll attend to that myself in th' morning'. I'll take keer o' 'im. He ain't from this county nohow. I'll go down there in the mornin' and see 'im....What kind of school is it nohow!" 

Fearful of what Pa will do, Dave tries to deter him from going to the school. Luster replies that he is going to "take keer o' Professor Herbert" himself, adding that a bullet will go into a schoolteacher as well as it does anyone else.

So, the next day he accompanies Dave to school, hiding his gun inside his coat. Nonetheless, Professor Herbert sees this gun, but he does not report Mr. Sexton. Instead, he shows Luster Sexton around the school, taking him into the science room where "seein' is believin'."

After his experiences at school, Luster Sexton changes his mind about Professor Herbert, finding him a fair man. He grabs a broom and helps Dave sweep so that his debt will be paid. While doing so, he encourages his son to do well in school, pay his debts, and be honest.

Read the study guide:
Split Cherry Tree

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