Johnny Tremain

Summarize what happens after Johnny finds Rab at Lexington. At the end of the novel, what decision does Johnny make about his future? What does this decision reveal about his values and character?

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When Johnny finds Rab at the tavern, the older boy is badly weakened by his wounds. Rab thanks Johnny for getting him the fine musket, although he never got a chance to use it before he was shot. Rab smiles and the young men have a warm moment of friendship. Rab asks Johnny to check up on his female relatives. When Johnny arrives at Silsbee Cove, no one is there––not even Grandsire, who had planned to sit out the battle at home. When Johnny returns to the tavern to report this news, Rab is dead. Dr. Warren says that Rab sent him on the errand just to get Johnny out of the tavern while he was dying. Johnny is heartbroken but takes the news stoically. After he has absorbed it, he picks up the musket Rab loved so much.

As Johnny holds the musket, Dr. Warren gets a good look at his hand for the first time. He explains that he can operate on the hand to give Johnny back the use of his thumb. However, Johnny will have to be brave enough to allow Dr. Warren to cut away the scar tissue. Johnny agrees and Dr. Warren says he has time to do the operation now, if only Johnny will take a walk and get some fresh air while he gets his instruments ready. As Johnny walks around the Lexington countryside, he sees the women cleaning up the mess left behind by the battle, and some haggard but determined Minute Men marching toward Charlestown. He feels proud of his country and its people.

By this point in the story, Johnny has come full circle. He no longer shies away from physical pain or work, as he did in the early chapters set at the Laphams’ house. He is also able to think rationally about his behavior rather than surrendering to his first impulses; he is stoic about Rab’s death and agrees to the operation because he knows that doing these things will be better in the long run, even if they are difficult now.