In The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois, why do you think Professor Sherman didn't resent taking orders from the Captain of the Day?        

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On the island of Krakatoa, where twenty families have settled, the children are all between ten and fifteen years of age in The Twenty-One Balloons (Dubois).  There is no formal schooling on the island, and the children plan projects for themselves, to learn and be meaningfully engaged in activity.  They have planned an amusement park, and the first "ride" is the Balloon Merry-Go-Round, which is a collection of small boats linked up in a circle, attached to balloons that will lift all the boats and take them out to the sea.  For this activity, the children take turns being "Captain of the Day," the person responsible for organizing the ride. 

Since the children have built this ride, thoughtfully and carefully, Professor Sherman, who is a perpetual guest on the island, has no reason not to follow orders.  The children are clearly competent at what they have done and are doing, and there would be no reason for him not to pitch in.  In fact, Professor Sherman finds this to be "amusing" (Dubois 132): having spent all these years ordering students about in his classroom, to be ordered about now by someone young enough to have been one of his students is quite the change.  He likes this turnabout because he is so very tired of teaching, and he has no desire to order about any student ever again.