Last Updated on August 7, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 637
“The Pupil” is a short story written by famed novelist Henry James, first published in 1891 in Longman’s Magazine. It follows the story of a broke Oxford and Yale student, Pemberton, who agrees to tutor a rich American family’s son, in order to make money to continue his studies. As time goes by, Pemberton and Morgan become very close to each other.
Against every interest he (Pemberton) had attached himself. They would have to meet things together. Before they went home that evening at Nice the boy had said, clinging to his arm:
“Well, at any rate you’ll hang on to the last.”
“To the last?”
“Till you’re fairly beaten.”
“You ought to be fairly beaten!” cried the young man, drawing him closer.
Some critics and readers argue that this relationship might be homosexual in nature, though there are no explicit scenes or any indications of a sexual relationship between Morgan and Pemberton.
“I think he ought to. I make sacrifices for him. Though I’ve heard of those you make I don’t see them.”
Mrs. Moreen stared a moment; then with emotion she grasped her inmate’s hand. “Will you make it — the sacrifice?”
He burst out laughing. “I’ll see. I’ll do what I can. I’ll stay a little longer. Your calculation’s just — I do hate intensely to give him up; I’m fond of him and he thoroughly interests me, in spite of the inconvenience I suffer. You know my situation perfectly. I haven’t a penny in the world and, occupied as you see me with Morgan, am unable to earn money.”
The Moreens have nothing but kind words for their son, and they often praise him; however, typical to his style, James tells us that they tend to neglect their son. Pemberton believes that this might be true, because Morgan is "supernaturally clever."
“He’s a genius—you’ll love him,” she added. “He’s much the most interesting person in the family.” And before he could invent some civility to oppose to this she wound up with: “But we’re all good, you know!”
He could trace perfectly the degrees by which, in proportion as her little son confined himself to his tutor for society, Mrs. Moreen shrewdly forbore to renew his garments. She did nothing that didn’t show, neglected him because he escaped notice, and then, as he illustrated this clever policy, discouraged at home his...
(The entire section contains 637 words.)
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