Split Cherry Tree

by Jesse Stuart

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Why isn't Dave ashamed of Pa entering the classroom in "Split Cherry Tree"?

Quick answer:

Despite Dave knowing that Pa doesn't fit into the academic setting in "Split Cherry Tree," he isn't ashamed of his father, mainly because he is focused on being nervous about what his father is going to do. Pa has brought a gun to the discussion and placed it on the seat. Dave is slightly relieved, however, that his fellow classmates aren't around to see the events unfolding.

Expert Answers

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At the time Dave enters the classroom with Pa, it is not embarrassment but fear that is his overriding emotion. Pa is a gruff man, and he has been known to take a gun to settle arguments before. Sure enough, when Pa gets up that morning, he promises to look into his son's "bug larnin', frog larnin', lizard and snake larnin', and breakin' down cherry trees!"

Dave knows that he can't avoid it, so his emotions jump not to embarrassment but to fear:

I was glad we were going early. If Pa pulled a gun on Professor Herbert there wouldn't be so many of my classmates there to see him.

Dave knows that his father will be an ill-fit for their high school in his overalls and sheepskin coat, but he trudges forward toward their destination. It turns out Dave has assessed his father's tactics correctly. When his professor clarifies that he is Dave's father, Pa replies,

"Yes," says Pa, pulling out his gun and laying it on the seat in Professor Herbert's office. Professor Herbert's eyes got big behind his black-rimmed glasses when he saw Pa's gun. Color came into his pale cheeks.

When his professor asks Pa why he's brought a gun with him, Pa reminds him that a bullet can kill a teacher the same as any other man.

Although his professor eventually smooths things over with Dave's Pa, when they first enter that discussion, Dave isn't entirely sure that his father won't kill his professor. Therefore, his overriding emotion is fearnot embarrassment.

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