Study Guide

Johnny Tremain Politics

By Esther Forbes

Politics

Johnny's introduction to the world of politics comes courtesy of his job as a rider for the Whig newspaper, the Boston Observer. The theme of politics is most evident in the middle of the Johnny Tremain, up to the point where the war starts and the theme of politics takes a backseat because diplomacy has failed. The major thing to notice is that there are two major parties, Whigs and Tories, and pretty much everyone in Boston eventually ends up on one side or the other. Politics in the novel happens through meetings, diplomacy, spying, spin-doctoring, and occasional violence. In other words, not much has changed.

Questions About Politics

  1. Does Johnny ever come to hold political beliefs of his own, or does he just go along with what people around him think?
  2. Think about characters who self-identify as Tories or Whigs. What reasons do they give for their choices?
  3. Are there any characters who could be identified as political moderates? What is the effect of their inclusion in or exclusion from the novel?
  4. If you had lived in Boston in 1773-1775, do you think you would be a Tory, a Whig, a moderate, or politically apathetic? Why?

Chew on This

While Johnny initially becomes a Whig almost by chance, he eventually makes the personal decision to rebel against England.

While their ultimate goals may be noble, political corruption is hinted at among the members of the Boston Observers.