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In the opening sections of "The Pupil," young tutor Pemberton is depicted as shy, timid and in desperate need of a means to support himself. He takes a position tutoring young precocious Morgan to secure his living honestly. However, Pemberton soon realizes that all is not well between Morgan and his family. Morgan's mother is cold and devious, while his father is harsh and overbearing. Witnessing the troubles of young Morgan, Pemberton develops a strong sense of duty toward his charge. He starts to stand up for Morgan when there are arguments at home. He also starts to take more responsibility for his relationship with Morgan, allowing the boy to accompany him on outings and investing in books for Morgan's library. Pemberton becomes more bold and outspoken. He starts to challenge Morgan's mother when she makes elitist or self-aggrandizing comments. He become more comfortable asking about his salary and pay. He gains the courage to take a job in London paying more than what Morgan's family was paying him. However, Pemberton returns to Morgan's family at the request of Morgan's parents. Morgan becomes ill and starts to depend even more on his relationship with Pemberton. Eventually, Morgan's parents financial difficulties catch up with them. They are evicted from their hotel. They ask Pemberton to take Morgan away and to take care of him. Pemberton hesitates. He doesn't have enough money to take care of Morgan, but he doesn't want Morgan to feel rejected or unwanted. In that moments' hesitation, Morgan dies of a heart attack. The reader is left with the sense that had Pemberton not hesitated, Morgan would have lived. Thus, at the end of the story, Pemberton's psychological development remains incomplete. He has the making of a strong hero: he is courageous, bold, and caring. But he still struggles with indecisiveness when swift action is called for. The indecisiveness at the end of the story hearkens back to Pemberton's earlier timidness, leaving the degree to which Pemberton has grown up for interpretation.
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