Split Cherry Tree

by Jesse Stuart

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What can we learn about Pa and Professor Herbert from the way they speak in "Split Cherry Tree"? Give examples.  

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Author Jesse Stuart, a native of Kentucky, knows the language of his native state, and he uses regional and colloquial speech patterns in his dialogue to beautifully bring the character of Luster Sexton to life. Pa Sexton is a hard-working, no nonsense farmer who still labors throughout the daylight hours though he is well into his 60s. Luster is poorly educated, and Dave--his youngest son--is the only one of 11 children who has made it as far as high school. Dave's education shows in his speech, but not Luster's: Stuart realistically creates the dialect of the area in Pa's broken English--

"Poor man's son, huh," says Pa. "I'll attend to that myself in th' mornin'. I'll take keer o' 'im. He ain't from this county nohow. I'll go down there in th' mornin' and see 'im. Lettin' you leave your books and galavant all over th' hills. What kind of a school is it nohow! Didn't do that, my son, when I's a little shaver in school.

--accurately separating him through his words from his son and the college-educated Professor Herbert. Professor Herbert's speech is dramatically different from Luster's. He speaks with none of the backwoods dialect spouted from the tongue of Dave's pa, and it is clear that Professor Herbert probably did not hail from the same area as the Sextons. Speaking clearly and politely, he shares none of Pa's dropped "g's" ("mornin' ") and mispronounced words ("keer"/care).

     "Stay with me today and I'll show you. I want to take you through the school anyway! School has changed a lot in the hills since you went to school. I don't guess we had high schools in this county when you went to school!
     "... Boys like your own there are going to help change it [the world]. He's your boy. He knows all of what I've told you. You stay with me today."

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