Notes on Johnny Tremain Themes

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Johnny Tremain Topic Tracking: Identity

Chapter 1

Identity 1: As a young boy, Johnny is given over to Mr. Lapham to be apprenticed as a silversmith by his mother. Before she dies, however, she tells Johnny that he is related to the Lytes, a rich merchant family in Boston. She tells Johnny to go to them for help only if he has no other choice in life. Johnny reveals this to Cilla and shows her his silver cup with the engraving of the Lyte family crest. Johnny is just another poor apprentice boy. But he realizes that there is something more to be known about who he is through his family's history. Hoping that he will one day be recognized as a Lyte, Johnny identifies with the Lyte's crest of a rising sun--he too will rise soon.

Chapter 2

Identity 2: Johnny is a natural silversmith who has the skills to become a master someday. All the other master silversmiths, including Paul Revere, covet Johnny and want to hire him. Johnny takes his apprenticeship seriously, evidenced by his visit to the much-admired Paul Revere.

Chapter 4

Identity 3: Johnny goes to the Lyte mansion hoping his fortunes change. Instead of being welcomed into the family as he imagined, Johnny is accused of stealing one of the Lyte cups and sent to jail.

Chapter 5

Identity 4: Johnny begins his new life as a rider for the Boston Observer and as a Whig. He moves in with Rab. No longer under the Lapham household, Johnny finds Mr. and Mrs. Lorne to be generous and agreeable. Before, Johnny is ignorant of politics, but as a rider, he comes into contact with the top leaders of the American Revolution. Johnny comes to enjoy his new life.

Identity 5: Johnny starts to evaluate his character with that of Rab. Johnny realizes that Rab is different--cool, calm, consistent, and unflappable, yet, possessing an aura of confidence and at appropriate times, energy. Johnny thinks he should be more mature like Rab.

Chapter 8

Identity 6: At the Lyte mansion, Johnny discovers the Lyte genealogy. He takes it with him. But he later feels that he should make a complete break with the past and live for the future. He burns the genealogy in the fire, signaling his new beginning as a part of the American rebellion, and not as a Lyte.

Chapter 9

Identity 7: When Johnny sees the firing squad execute Mr. Pumpkin, he begins to doubt his courage for the first time in his life. Johnny is beginning to realize that this potential war can lead to serious consequences. Is he up to the challenge? Johnny asks himself.

Chapter 11

Identity 8: Johnny finds out about his mother from Miss Lavinia Lyte. She tells him that his mother was beautiful and that she had his same widow's peak. Although Johnny wants to think about what Miss Lavinia Lyte tells him, he endeavors not to lose sight of his mission and purpose to help defeat the British.

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