Johnny Tremain Chapter 5 Summary

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

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

Chapter five of Esther Forbes's 'Johnny Tremaine' marks a fresh start for Johnny, as he moves on after his courtroom win over Merchant Lyte. Johnny creates a new life for himself with the help of Rab, and he gains some of his healthy confidence back.

Dinner at the Afric Queen

Johnny, Quincy, Rab, Cilla, and Isannah go to the Afric Queen to celebrate Johnny's victory against Merchant Lyte in court that day. Patrons laugh at the idea that Merchant Lyte was humiliated in the courtroom after trying to steal a cup from a poor apprentice boy. Because Merchant Lyte's pride was hurt, Quincy warns Johnny to be careful around Lyte for he is now his enemy.

A Dangerous Proposition

Johnny enters Lyte's office and offers to sell him the cup to earn money for supplies for a job he wants on a ship. Lyte becomes furious and says that he will never purchase stolen goods. Before Johnny can react, Lyte snatches the cup out of Johnny's hand. Merchant Lyte then calls in his workers and tells them that Johnny just confessed to the theft and returned the cup to him. Johnny tries to demand money from Lyte, but Lyte threatens him. A wild argument starts and Johnny escapes in the chaos.

A New Job

Johnny returns to the printing press and is greeted by Rab's uncle, Mr. Lorne. Mr. Lorne asks if Johnny would make a good newspaper rider and Rab vouches for Johnny. To deliver papers, Johnny will need to learn to ride a horse and deliver all around Boston three days a week. He will be given food, shelter, and clothes for his work.

Rab gives Johnny Goblin, a shy, nervous horse to ride. Rab teaches Johnny to ride the horse, and he gets to know Goblin over the next few days. Johnny begins his delivery route to the towns around Boston and is questioned about politics since he hails from the capital and works for the political publication the Observer. Over time, Johnny takes a liking to politics and associates himself with the Whig Party.


Johnny is living with Rab now in the attic and questions him about why there are a large number of chairs in the space. Rab replies that they used to house a secret club, 'The Boston Observers.'

Johnny has free time in the beginning of the week, and he spends it taking care of Goblin, reading, and caring for Mrs. Lorne's baby when she asks him to. Mrs. Lorne notices how sweet Johnny is to the baby, and she begins to treat Johnny as if he is her own.

Johnny runs into Cilla when she is fetching water. Upset that she is made to do this, Johnny agrees to meet her several times a week and deliver the water within steps of the house. He will not, of course, enter the Laphams' because of what they did to him.

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