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Carissa Green Reads

I read widely from many genres. Perhaps this blog will feature fewer ratings and reviews, but I certainly intend to write about my reading life - it's the subject I most find myself wanting to talk about.

Currently reading

Chekhov Four Plays
Anton Chekhov, David Magarshack
Beyond the University Why Liberal Education Matters
Michael S Roth
First Love, Last Rites
Ian McEwan
The Gay Science: with a Prelude in Rhymes and an Appendix of Songs
Walter Kaufmann, Friedrich Nietzsche
A Kierkegaard Anthology
Robert W. Bretall

Book Boyfriends: Rethinking Johnny Tremain

Johnny Tremain - Esther Forbes, Lynd Ward

I recently had occasion to re-read Johnny Tremain. Esther Forbes' Newberry Award winner was one of my favorite books as a kid. I loved Johnny. "Loved" as in full-on romantic crush on a fictional character "loved."


Oh, how badly he was wronged by stupid Dove, who should have recognized Johnny's superiority and centrality to the family unit. What bad decisions Mrs. Lapham made, and how ineffectual his master was in bringing him through. How Johnny needed me to comfort him as he recovered from his horrific injury. When he gets a psychic recovery at the end of the novel and a chance to move into a new beginning, freed from his scar tissue, to fight in the revolution (and develop new psychic scar tissue, probably), I wasn't ready to let him go. But I do believe he survives the war. He's too smart and cunning not to.


Reading the book when I was Johnny's age, he was a romantic character to me. But now, reading the book when I am of an age to be Johnny's mother, I see him much differently. I see that through the circumstances of his upbringing, he was a very badly raised boy. Overly indulged when he was of use, rejected when he was not, he was allowed to develop a terrible ego and not checked when he treated people around him with condescension and forgot the virtues of kindness and respect. It is a miracle that as Boston geared up for war, he was able to find mentors in Rab and his uncle. Thankfully, their help came for Johnny before it was too late. 


I still love Johnny, but now with a completely different sense of pathos than when he was my "book boyfriend" those many years ago.