Study Guide

The Mill on the Floss Book 2, Chapter 3

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Book 2, Chapter 3

The New Schoolfellow

  • Tom goes back to school and meets Philip Wakem.
  • Philip has a hunchback and Tom is uncomfortable around him.
  • (Quick Historical Context Lesson: Philip most likely suffered from a condition like scoliosis, or a curving of the spine. Back in this period they weren’t able to medically correct it. A lot of people in this period also disliked people with deformities and thought that they were somehow bad, so Philip would have dealt with a lot of prejudice against him.)
  • Philip and Tom are both proud and shy so they don’t say much to each other during their first meeting. It’s all very awkward.
  • Tom notices that Philip is not only deformed, but he also looks a bit like a girl. Philip is pale and small and has curly brown hair.
  • But Philip is a good artist, and Tom is intrigued by his pictures. So the two finally strike up a conversation over drawing.
  • Philip says he taught himself to draw and Tom is impressed.
  • It turns out that Philip already knows Latin and he’s at Mr. Stelling’s to learn some more advanced subjects.
  • Tom then asks Philip about his dad, which makes Philip uncomfortable.
  • The boys discuss school: Philip says he can learn the things he wants to in the future and he’ll just study Latin and stuff for now. Tom likes this plan.
  • Philip then impresses Tom with his knowledge of Greek and Roman history and all the cool battles.
  • We learn that Philip is fifteen and Tom is nearly fourteen.
  • Tom starts talking about fishing and Philip thinks fishing is dumb. The boys are called to dinner before they can argue about it.

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