Johnny Tremain Facts

Instructor: Shelley Vessels

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

Read the following lesson for the fast facts of the beloved historical fiction novel, ~'Johnny Tremain,~' by Esther Forbes and a breakdown of the story's plot line.

Johnny Tremain: Publishing Facts

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1943 and won a Newbery Award in 1944. A coming-of-age story, it is set in and around the time of the American Revolution in Boston and its surrounding towns. The story's themes include humility and tolerance of handicaps, as told through the third person limited point of view.

Major Characters

Johnny Tremain is the protagonist, or the main character, who readers cheer on throughout the plot. He enters the story as a 14-year-old talented silversmith apprentice who disfigures his hand and needs to build a new life for himself. Through Rab Silsbee, Johnny gets involved and ends up playing an important role in the American Revolution.

Cilla Lapham is Johnny's love interest. Their friendship starts while Johnny is an apprentice under her grandfather, Mr. Lapham. Cilla is devoted to her sickly younger sister, Isannah, and follows her to the wealthy Lytes' house as a servant.

While Johnny is out looking for work, he takes a liking to Rab Silsbee who shares his meal with him. Over time, Rab and Johnny become best friends. Rab exerts a great deal of influence on Johnny on everything ranging from politics to how to be a better man.

Plot Lines

All plot lines have six parts, including the exposition, where the characters and setting are introduced, and rising actions, where the protagonist faces a series of conflicts. Plot lines also include a climax, or the most exciting part of the story, and falling action, where some of the character's conflicts start to get resolved. All of a story's loose ends take place at its conclusion, or denouement.

A Plot Line of a Story

The exposition of Johnny Tremain starts out in 1773 in the Laphams' silversmith shop. Readers get to know the Lapham family, including Mr. and Mrs. Lapham, Madge, Dorcas, Cilla, and Isannah, as well as Johnny's fellow apprentices, Dove and Dusty. Readers quickly discover that even though Johnny has many talents, he also has an arrogant side to him and occasionally bullies his fellow apprentices.

In the rising action, Johnny faces a number of issues, including severely injuring his hand in a silversmithing accident, losing his apprenticeship, getting arrested for stealing Mr. Lyte's family cup, and suffering mistreatment from others due to his disability.

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