Good Night, Mr. Tom

by Michelle Magorian

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Why was Tom unusually quiet when Will returned from his play rehearsal in Good Night, Mr. Tom?

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Tom was quiet after William returned from rehearsal because he had been asked to step in and direct the choir at the school. The old choir teacher, Mr. Bush, was "called up" to military service, so Tom, who years ago had been an organist, was asked to step in.

William senses that something has changed with Tom when he gets home. Tom tells him that he did play the organ, years ago "when Rachel was alive." Rachel had been his wife but died in childbirth, and the baby, who had also been named William, died too. Tom buried both of them "under the oak tree" in his yard.

Tom's decision to accept the choir position and relearn how to play the organ marks a big change in his outlook. Previous to Will coming to him, he had been a recluse and had fed on his sorrow for his wife. But this decision seems to indicate that he is beginning to move on. Will himself has had a similar experience; his success at the play rehearsal has shown him that he might have talents he never suspected were there. Both Tom and William are coming back into active life. That's why Tom says that they will both need their tea "extra sweet" that evening, since they have both taken big steps.

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