Summary and Analysis: Chapter 9
Timothy Cook: a little boy in Mercy and Kit’s class.
Charity Hughes: a little girl in Mercy and Kit’s class.
Peter: the little boy in Mercy and Kit’s class who is beaten during the play of the Good Samaritan.
Mr. Eleazer Kimberley: the schoolmaster who interrupts the play.
Reverend John Woodbridge: the minister who accompanies Mr. Kimberley when he interrupts the play.
Kit is helping Mercy teach eleven of the younger children in the community how to read. Mercy is very patient, but Kit, while she likes the children and connects with them as she does not with their parents, gets bored by the droning repetition and moralistic rhymes, and starts making up little rhymes about the children. The six children assigned to Kit are fascinated. This is part of a general impulse by Kit to bring their education to life, as she does by rewarding their memorization with stories. That day, Kit is going to tell them the story of the Good Samaritan, but since the children all already know the story, Kit has an idea. She decides to have them act the story out. Mercy is not sure that is a good idea, but the children enter into the pretending with vigor. At first they are excited, but then things get out of hand: Kit had chosen the three worst behaved boys in the school to play the robbers who assault the traveler, and they start pounding on the boy for real.
Before Kit and Mercy can break up the fight, Mr. Eleazer Kimberley and Reverend John Woodbridge enter the kitchen and start caning the unruly boys. The two men are horrified at what they have found and are scandalized to learn that there has been “play-acting” in school, which they consider sinful. Kit takes responsibility for the activity and is immediately dismissed. Before they leave, the two men say they will have to consider whether Mercy is responsible enough to keep teaching the children as well.
Mercy is left in tears, and Kit is so upset that she runs from the house. She is not sure where she is going but somehow finds her way to the Great Meadows, where she...
(The entire section is 733 words.)