Study Guide

The Great Brain Chapter 5

By John D. Fitzgerald

Chapter 5

Greek Immigrant

  • Later in the summer, the all-American kids of Adenville get a taste of the wider world when Vassillios Kokovinis moves to town.
  • Vassillios is the son of George Kokovinis, who owns the local restaurant, the Palace Cafe (no fancy accent marks in Adenville, thank you very much). He and his mother are finally reunited with Mr. Kokovinis, who immigrated five years ago.
  • Initially, most of the boys, led by Sammy Leeds, whose father hates immigrants (bigotry was alive and well in 1896), take advantage of Vassillios by forcing him to play the least desirable roles in most of their games.
  • This doesn't sit right with J.D., who enlists the help of his brothers to take up for Vassillios.
  • Vassillios takes them to his father's restaurant for lunch, where Tom sees a way to help Vassillios (whose name means "Basil" in English) while also making some green for himself.
  • First, Tom explains to Mr. Kokovinis that Basil (as J.D. now calls him) will need key items to help him become an all-American kid.
  • Mr. K. forks over a silver dollar, and Tom promptly sells a bunch of his old stuff to Basil, reasoning that his stuff is more authentic than anything Basil could buy from a store. Whatever helps Tom sleep at night, we guess.
  • The next challenge is more difficult: Sammy Leeds isn't done with Basil and continues to bully him.
  • After Tom and J.D. rescue Basil from Sammy and his cronies, Tom determines that Basil must fight and whip Sammy in order to prove that he's not a coward and a mama's boy.
  • Mr. Kokovinis is fine with this and agrees to pay Tom a dollar the day Basil whips Sammy.
  • Tom works with Basil, but he can't figure out how to teach Basil to fight until Papa suggests that the Greeks are known for wrestling.
  • Yeah, this isn't just some kids fighting—it's adult-sanctioned kid-on-kid violence. Apparently nobody used their words in 1896.
  • Finally Basil whips Sammy, and Tom gets his dollar.
  • Tom swears to be Basil's best friend, which nearly makes Mr. Kokovinis cry with gratitude, though J.D. is sure Tom is thinking about how to turn this to his own pecuniary advantage.