Study Guide

Johnny Tremain Pride

By Esther Forbes

Pride

As themes go, pride is one of the big ones, especially early in the novel. In the first couple of chapters, pride might be said to be Johnny's defining trait. The idea that pride goeth before a fall is central to Johnny's accident, so we could say that Johnny's pride really sets all the other events of the novel in motion. However, there are different kinds of pride and different reasons to be proud. The theme of pride undergoes a marked change in the type of pride throughout Johnny Tremain: we see Johnny's professional pride and his natural arrogance first, but he eventually gets a handle on it, and his pride mellows by the end.

Questions About Pride

  1. Pride is one of Johnny's defining character traits, but could other characters also be described as proud?
  2. Can pride ever be a good thing? Are there moments in the novel where pride leads to good things rather than simply going before a fall?
  3. Why is Johnny's pride so much more marked at the beginning of the novel? What leads it to change by the end?
  4. Does his pride make you like Johnny less or more? Why?

Chew on This

The idea that "pride goeth before a fall" can be applied not only to Johnny but also to the British Empire.

Johnny's pride is largely a coping mechanism that he uses whenever he feels at a disadvantage.