43 pages 1 hour read

Richard Peck

The Teacher's Funeral

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade

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Part 1, Chapters 5-7

Part 1: “Kissing Summer Good-Bye”

Chapter 5 Summary: “A Mess of Bad Puppies”

Townspeople crowd the Methodist church for Miss Myrt’s funeral. The Culver family sits a row from the front, close enough to see Miss Myrt laid out in her coffin. Preacher Parr, Charlie’s dad, knows that nobody will miss the teacher: Miss Myrt never fit into the community, and she was a plain woman. Instead of praising her, Preacher Parr gets the congregation worked up about what school was like in the old days, when children were happy and eager to learn (39). He blames the “degraded” kids of today for causing Miss Myrt’s heart to give out and urges their parents to punish them (41). Preacher Parr reads a poem by the anonymous Sweet Singer of Sycamore Township, praising Miss Myrt. When the Culvers file by the coffin to pay respects, Tansy pulls the polished maple pointer out of Miss Myrt’s dead hands. Russell thinks this is “an evil omen” (45).

Chapter 6 Summary: “The First Such Mishap of the Twentieth Century”

Coming home from the funeral, the Culver’s wagon nearly collides with a young man driving a “Bullet No. 2” racing automobile (50). The horses panic, throwing Aunt Maud into in the ditch, but she is unharmed. The dashing driver of the car, Eugene Hammond, explains he is displaying the auto at fairs to advertise the Overland Automobile Company and show farmers the possibilities of mechanization.