Write the character sketch of young Jefferson of Three Men In a Boat, who was learning to play the bagpipes.

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chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The narrator introduces us to this character in Chapter XIV of Three Men in a Boat. He says that he once knew a young fellow who was learning to play the bagpipes. But no matter where the man tried to practice, people were offended or even scared by the whiny sounds. From what little we’re told about him, it seems as though he was nevertheless quite determined to learn the nuances of the instrument, even if it meant that he was banished to practice at the other end of the property, away from everyone else. The narrator felt sorry for him:

There is, it must be confessed, something very sad about the early efforts of an amateur in bagpipes. I have felt that myself when listening to my young friend. They appear to be a trying instrument to perform upon.

No matter what the man did, it seemed he didn’t have the lung capacity to play the demanding instrument at length. He learned to play only one song successfully; but still, many people couldn’t identify the tune. Jefferson – whose name we are told only towards the end of the story – didn’t have the strength or the talent to make a go of it. And no one else supported him in his endeavor. He should have been applauded for making the attempt at such a challenge. But obviously, he was going to have to find something else to be good at. The narrator doesn’t tell us if Jefferson gave up the bagpipes and landed upon another occupation. Yet this is probably the logical conclusion to this character’s story. He would have to go through a process of self-realization first, because no one else seemed to want to tell him the truth about his music.

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