What happened to Ben's teeth in Andrew Clements' We the Children?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Early in the story of Andrew Clements' We The Children, the narrator describes Ben, the protagonist, as having a nervous habit of frequently rubbing his tongue across porcelain caps on his front teeth. By the sixth chapter, through a flashback, we find out exactly why those porcelain caps are there--Ben broke his two permanent front teeth in half.

Ben had his accident one hot Fourth of July when he was eight years old. His family had driven up to Shorey Pond in Maine to visit his grandparents. Since the day was so hot, the first thing he did when they arrived was head for the water. In the pond, he swam to a buoy that "warned the motorboats away from the beach" (p. 54). He started playing around with the buoy. At one point, he pulled the buoy under the water to experiment with sitting on it. Unfortunately, Ben lost his balance when he waved to his grandfather, shouting, "Hey, Grampa, look at me!" (p. 55). The buoy then shot up and hit him hard in the face, splitting his upper lip and breaking off half of both of his two front teeth.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Ben was eight years old his family visited his grandparents in Maine on July Fourth. Ben decided to go for a swim and found a buoy bobbing out in the pond. He pushed the buoy underwater, and then he sat on it and held it between his knees. The buoy bobbed up and hit him in the lip. His mouth gushed with blood, and his parents had to take him to the emergency room many miles away. As his parents were taking him to the emergency room, Ben realized that his two front teeth were missing; they had just snapped right off. In his head he imagined the teeth floating to the bottom of the pond, and he suddenly realized that each moment has the capacity to affect each and every moment that comes after it. Ben considers that July Fourth to be "a tipping point of his life" (page 55) because of his important realization. 

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We the Children

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