Study Guide

Johnny Tremain Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

A World to Come

  • Johnny happens to see the Lytes's coach heading out to Milton; Isannah looks straight at him but doesn't show that she sees him.
  • In late August, Johnny hears rumors about the Lytes's country house being attacked. He knows that the only place they can run is back to Boston, so he goes to the town gates to meet the coach when it comes through.
  • The Lytes's coach arrives, careening on three wheels and pursued by a mob. The mob dissipates as the Lytes reach the safety of Boston.
  • Johnny sees Miss Lavinia and Mr. Lyte get out of the coach. Mr. Lyte is clearly very ill, and Miss Lavinia's entire personality seems to have been changed by the attack and her father's illness. She sends for Doctor Warren because he's the best doctor in town, even if he is a Whig.
  • Cilla goes to Miss Lavinia and tells her the silver was left behind—and Miss Lavinia doesn't care.
  • Johnny goes up to Cilla, who is really set on getting that silver. She tells him Mrs. Bessie warned them, but the mob arrived earlier than Mrs. Bessie thought it would, and Johnny decides he likes Mrs. Bessie better for not letting the Lytes be attacked without warning.
  • Mr. Lyte is very sick, and Doctor Warren insists he can't be upset or angered ever again.
  • Cilla feels responsible for going back and closing the house properly, so Johnny tells her he'll go with her.
  • They borrow Doctor Warren's chaise and head back to Milton.
  • They reach Milton without too much trouble and find the Lyte coat-of-arms on the gates smashed; when they get inside, the meal they find the meal the Lytes left uneaten on the table.
  • Cilla gets to work packing up the silver, while Johnny explores the house. He goes into Miss Lavinia's room, where her finery is strewn about.
  • He explores Mr. Lyte's bedroom, where the overturned chair and crumpled carpet show where he had his "fit"—probably a stroke or heart attack. In Mr. Lyte's study, he finds important papers in a hollowed out book and takes them to give to Sam Adams.
  • He picks up a Bible, hoping it will also be hollowed out, but instead he finds the Lyte genealogy. He studies it, finally finding the place where his mother's name has been scratched out.
  • He discovers that Mr. Lyte is his grandfather's elder brother and that his grandfather built this house.
  • He cuts the pages from the Bible, but when Cilla encourages him to take the silver cup Mr. Lyte stole from him, he tells her he doesn't want it.
  • After he carries a hamper out to the chaise, he comes back into the kitchen and burns the genealogy.
  • Cilla asks him to close all the shutters, and as he walks through the house, he feels that it is haunted with the ghosts of all the Lytes.
  • Cilla is satisfied that she has done her best, saying that the house is in good shape now, but Johnny tells her that the Lytes will never come back because the world is changing.
  • He realizes as they leave that Cilla also feels the ghostly stillness of the place and the way that closing the Lytes's house is symbolic of the end of a world.
  • As they drive back to Boston, they see farmers out drilling in the early morning, and Johnny, recalling how well armed the British are in Boston, is afraid for them.
  • In the fall, Rab's typical calm is completely overthrown by his desire for a better gun. He tries to buy a British musket off a farmer who buys them from British soldiers, but he, the farmer, and the soldier are all caught.
  • While the farmer is tarred and feathered though, Rab is merely laughed at, called a little boy, and sent home.
  • Rab tells Johnny that the militia are being told to pick off the officers, then the sergeants, and to use the white crosses on their red uniforms as targets.
  • Now Johnny is worried about the British soldiers he knows and likes.
  • One Thursday when Johnny is visiting Cilla, they have another really awkward conversation in which they sort of try to express their feelings for each other but don't succeed very well. Cilla tells Johnny that her mother married Mr. Tweedie to keep him in the business after Madge eloped with Sergeant Gale. Cilla thinks Maria Tweedie—her mother's new name—is an okay name.
  • This leads them into a conversation in which Johnny finds out that Rab has been visiting Cilla, buying her candy, and taking her to hear speeches. He is not happy about this, but they both agree that Rab is pretty wonderful. Cilla is really just messing with Johnny.
  • Cilla says she could never marry Rab because Cilla Silsbee is a terrible name, but that she's always thought Priscilla Tremain a very nice name, ever since she was eleven and was told she had to marry Johnny.
  • She starts to go in the house, but he calls her back to tell her he also likes the name Priscilla Tremain. He means it as a joke, but it doesn't come out that way, and it's awkward.
  • Cilla picks an apple and gives it to him, and he decides to keep it to see if it ripens or goes bad.
  • He sets the apple on the windowsill in the attic, but Rab eats it.
  • Johnny gets disproportionately angry at Rab over this and decides the apple is not a symbol of his and Cilla's relationship, after all.
  • The Boston Observers gather for one final meeting—they will not meet again because the British are starting to notice.
  • Johnny manages to get fruit for the punch from Mrs. Bessie, and he and Rab make the punch.
  • The boys are asked to stay for the meeting, and Sam Adams leads a discussion about why war has to come.
  • Adams is interrupted by James Otis, who wasn't invited but came anyway. Otis says he knows they all think he's lost his mind, and then he talks for a long time about how they are fighting for more than taxes, for more than Englishmen. They are fighting to free the world from oppression. He sums up his words with the phrase, "A man can stand up" (8.5.65), and says that is what they will fight for.

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