Student Question

How does Johnny Tremain demonstrate devotion to his friends and country?

Quick answer:

Johnny Tremain shows his devotion to his friends in a number of ways, such as carrying Isannah to the wharf when she is unwell to help her get some fresh air. He helps his country by participating in the Boston Tea Party and allowing his hand to be operated on without anesthetic with the goal of being able to fire a gun.

Expert Answers

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I would argue that there are numerous instances in which Johnny Tremain shows his devotion to his friends and his country.

First, when Cilla wakes him up to inform him that her younger sister, Isannah, is not well, Johnny cares enough to carry the girl to the wharf so that she can enjoy a breeze off the water and get some respite from the heat. At Cilla's request, Johnny tells her the story behind his name, which is a secret that Johnny has guarded carefully. His kindness to Cilla and Isannah is repaid handsomely later in the story, when they show their reciprocal devotion to him by defending him in court, against their parents' wishes.

As tensions between Britain and America rise, Johnny learns to use an ax, so that he can be part of the rebellion. He shows his devotion to his country, albeit hand in hand with his love of being at the center of any ruckus, by scooping hundreds of dollars worth of tea over the edge of a ship as part of the event which would become known as the Boston Tea Party. Thanks to his injured hand, he can't show his devotion to his country by firing a gun, but when the opportunity arises, he allows one of the Boston Observers to operate on his hand with no anesthetic so that he can join in the fight.

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In what ways does Johnny Tremain show that he is reliable?

Johnny Tremain shows that he is a reliable apprentice right from the start when he sets about getting the other apprentices out of bed in the morning. After being an apprentice for just two years, he is the indisputable leader of the group, which is much resented by certain other boys; although he has good people skills, he tends to act superior to the other boys.

Johnny has clearly proved over the years that he is reliable, because it has already been decided that when they are older, Johnny will marry Cilla and take over the business.

It seems that his reliability comes and goes, because he storms out of the house after being asked to be more humble and is soon back to his old habits of picking out faults in his co-workers. To be fair, since Johnny takes on immense responsibilities around the shop, such as making sure they don't run out of coal and that orders are written down correctly, he seems to have a certain right to be a bit arrogant.

Even after the cruel accident that leaves Johnny with a damaged hand, he perseveres in finding something to do with his life. He is too reliable and too efficient to be satisfied with a life of sitting back on his laurels.

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