Who is Mr. Lapham in Johnny Tremain?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Johnny Tremain is, of course, primarily about the life of young orphan named Johnny Tremain. We first meet him as an apprentice in a silversmith's shop, and he is an arrogant, impatient, and thoughtless young man. He will also be a master silversmith one day, for he has a gift. Ephraim Lapham is the master craftsman to whom Johnny is indentured.

Mr. Lapham is a godly man who recognizes both Johnny's faults and his gift for working with silver. Though Lapham was once a brilliant craftsman, his skills are waning. He is older and puts his faith above his business; he is even willing to sacrifice his business for his principles. The "accident" which burns Johnny's hands happens because Johnny is willing (with the complicity of others) to work on Sunday despite his master's rules. Once Johnny leaves, it seems Mr. Lapham goes into a sort of seclusion, and his business suffers accordingly.

Mr. Lapham tries to help Johnny see the error of his ways while Johnny is in his care; however, the boy does not heed the old man and has to learn humility and compassion through some very difficult circumstances. Lapham is committed to Johnny because of a promise he made to his mother and allows him to stay in his home as long as he is able. Mr. Lapham is a compassionate, principled man of faith.