Johnny Tremain Chapter 12 Summary

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

Shelley has taught at the middle school level for 10 years and has a master's degree in teaching English.

Even though it's the final chapter, chapter 12 of 'Johnny Tremain' marks a real beginning for Johnny. Life will be quite different Johnny once the chapter ends, but it is also quite promising!

The Battle's Aftermath

Chapter 12 is the final chapter of Esther Forbes's Johnny Tremain. When it begins, Johnny hitches a ride to Charlestown wearing Pumpkin's old uniform. The wounded from both sides are everywhere, and Johnny is looking for Doctor Warren.

Stopping at a water pump in Lexington, Johnny asks a woman if she knows who was killed in the battle. She replies that she does, and she rattles off all eight names of the rebel men who died. None of those names are Rab's. Johnny asks about Rab's family, and she tells him that all the men except the Grandsire had gone off to battle, and the women had escaped to Woburn but might be back at their home now.

Finding Rab

Johnny finds Doctor Warren and asks if he has any knowledge of Rab. In fact, he does. Rab was wounded in the first round of fighting, and he was taken to Buckman's Tavern. Doctor Warren tells Johnny that it's serious, and when he visits he needs to, like Rab, take it like a man.

Johnny and Doctor Warren travel to the tavern where Rab is being cared for. He's in a back bedroom, sitting up in a chair propped up by pillows. Johnny was afraid that Rab would be wailing in pain when he arrived, but he isn't; Rab smiles when he sees Johnny, although he's very ill.

A Musket for Johnny

Rab tells Johnny that he is disappointed that he never had a chance to shoot his musket in battle because the British got him first. Rab tells Johnny that he can have his musket because Rab would like to see that it is used. Then Rab asks Johnny to go to Silsbee's Cove, where his family lives, to check on them. With Doctor Warren tending to Rab, Johnny leaves to seek out Rab's family.

Searching for the Silsbees

At Sislbee's Cove, Johnny doesn't find anyone about. He only finds some calves, chickens, dogs, and a cat - no people. Johnny enters the home, grabs some food to feed the animals, and keeps searching for Grandsire Silsbee, but he is not there.

Rab's Final Act of Kindness

Upon returning to the tavern to tell Rab he didn't find his family, Johnny is told by Doctor Warren that Rab has passed. Johnny asks if Rab sent him away because Rab knew he was going to die, and Doctor Warren confirms what Johnny already knew. Rab wanted to protect Johnny.

Johnny and Doctor Warren talk about the night when Otis came to the Observer's meeting and said they were fighting so 'a man can stand up.' They are fighting because they want to give others the ability to stand up on their own two feet like men.

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