What is the story Lavinia tells about Johnny’s parents? Why had his father gone by the name Latour when he was in America? How did Johnny and his mother make it back to Massachusetts? From chapters 11-12
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Lavinia pulls Johnny aside and admits to him that he really is related to the Lytes. Johnny’s mother, Lavinia “Vinny” Lyte, was Miss Lavinia’s older cousin. She was “wild and beautiful” (246) and Lavinia admired her greatly. Vinny fell in love with a French prisoner-of-war and eloped with him when the Lytes told her they couldn’t marry. Johnny was born in Marseilles. After his father died, Vinny returned to America with Johnny and lived a modest life under the name Mrs. Tremain until her death. Johnny also learns that his father gave a false name in America because he was ashamed to have been taken prisoner. Johnny’s real last name is not Tremain but Latour. Lavinia says that Merchant Lyte did not mean to be so cruel to Johnny––he honestly thought Johnny was trying to trick him. It was only after Lavinia did her own research that she discovered all of this; she was inspired to look into the matter after seeing Johnny’s widow’s peak, which reminded her of her cousin Vinny. She tells Johnny that he can have some of their property if there is any left after the Revolution, and asks him to call her Aunt.