Topics for Discussion

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1. Isannah Lapham is only a minor character. What function does she serve in the story? How can she be compared to her sister Cilia?

2. At the end of the story, Rab becomes one of the first casualties of the American Revolution. Why did Forbes choose to have a major character killed? Would the story change significantly if Rab lived?

3. In many ways, Johnny, Rab, and Cilia seem far older than they really are. What kinds of adult responsibilities do they have? How does war cause young people to grow up faster?

4. Forbes said that she tried to make Johnny a realistic and fully rounded character. Was she successful in her intentions? How is Johnny similar to boys his age today?

5. Mr. Lapham predicts that Johnny will be punished for his vanity. Is Johnny's accident bad luck or is Johnny himself to blame?

6. When Johnny tears up the pages from the Lyte family Bible, he says "This is the end. The end of one thing—the beginning of something else." Explain what he means.

7. Any death in wartime is tragic, but the death of the redheaded soldier Pumpkin seems particularly sad. Why does the death of a British soldier have such a profound effect on Johnny?

8. How are the apprentices such as Johnny and Rab able to obtain secret information? How is Johnny Tremain a testimony to the "unsung heroes" of the American Revolution?

9. Johnny is unsuccessful when he goes job hunting. Does the reader sympathize with him? Is the reader intended to learn something from these experiences?

10. Explain what James Otis means when he says that the colonists are willing to go to war so "that a man can stand up." How does that phrase later have a special significance for Johnny?

11. In his work delivering newspapers, Johnny becomes better acquainted with some of the British soldiers. How does he feel about them? What do these feelings suggest about the "enemy"?

12. Is Johnny right to try to establish a relationship with the Lyte family? What effect, if any, do you think this would have after the Revolutionary War?

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