Split Cherry Tree

by Jesse Stuart

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What are Pa's feelings about Dave's school at the end of "Split Cherry Tree"?

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In the beginning of "Split Cherry Tree," Dave is not confident that Pa will change his mind about the school and is actually concerned his father will pull out a gun. After Pa and Dave's teacher discuss with each other, Pa's attitude noticeably changes and Dave becomes more confident that he will change his mind about the school.

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When Dave's pa was growing up, they only taught

"... readin', writin', and cipherin'. We didn't have all this bug larnin', frog larnin', and findin' germs on your teeth and in the middle o' black snakes! Th' world's changin'."

When Luster Sexton took the day off from work and headed to his son, Dave's, high school, he took a pistol with him. He meant to make things right with the teacher, Professor Herbert, even if it took a bullet to do so. But to Dave's surprise, the teacher and his father soon bonded, and by the end of the day, the two were friends. Professor Herbert had proven that there were germs on Luster's teeth, and Luster convinced the teacher not to kill the black snake. They had both learned from one another and Luster realized that

"He's a good man. School has changed from my day and time."

Luster refused to allow Professor Herbert to "cancel the debt," and  he joined Dave in sweeping the classroom. In the end, Luster admitted to the teacher that "I've larned a lot from you." Later that night, Luster

... sat before the fire and told Mom he was going to take her and show her a germ sometime. Mom hadn't seen one either. Pa told her about the high school and the fine man Professor Herbert was. He told Mom about the strange school across the hill and how different it was from the school in their day and time.

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Why is Dave confident that Pa will change his mind about the school in "Split Cherry Tree"?

Dave is not at all confident at first that his father will change his mind about the school. He is nervous that his father will pull a gun on his teacher, Professor Herbert. He wishes his father wouldn't go to the school with him, as Dave feels it is not a place he will fit in easily. He knows he can tell his father that school has changed a lot, but doesn't know if that will do any good.

As they walk to school together, Dave is nervous but hopeful. He thinks:

Maybe Pa will find out Professor Herbert is a good man. He just doesn't know him. Just like I felt toward the Lambert boys across the hill. I didn't like them until I'd seen them and talked to them.

Dave's confidence in his father's ability to change his mind about the school grows as he sees that Professor Herbert and his father are hitting it off. Dave's father is willing to listen carefully to what the teacher has to say and to try to learn from him. By the time his teacher and his father sit down to lunch together, Dave is confident that all will be well, thinking:

He would find out about the high school as I had found out about the Lambert boys across the hill.

Dave is right. Actually seeing what is going on in the school with his own eyes raises his father's appreciation for what Dave is learning, which is much different from his own very basic schooling. Dave's father comes away supportive of his son's education.

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