43 pages 1 hour read

Richard Peck

The Teacher's Funeral

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade

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Part 2, Chapters 8-10

Part 2: “The Jailhouse of School”

Chapter 8 Summary: “Called to the Trough of Knowledge”

On the first day of school, Russell and Charlie Parr smoke a buggy whip in the weeds behind the boys’ privy. They think Tansy will not be able to call students inside without the school bell, but Tansy surprises them by ringing a cowbell. In addition to Russell, Charlie, and Lloyd, there are four other students at the Hominy Ridge School: Pearl Nearing, who has reached “the troublesome age” for girls (80); Beulah Bradly, “Little Britches,” a tiny young girl who gets her nickname because she mistakenly tucks her skirts into her underwear; and Lloyd’s friends Lester, a bookworm, and Floyd, “Flopears,” who can barely read. Tansy establishes her authority but is not sure what to teach until Charlie helpfully suggests Spelling School. They spell all morning, until Little Britches smells smoke. The boys’ privy is on fire. Everyone rushes to put out the flames. Charlie and Russell blame the fire on a freak lightning bolt. 

Chapter 9 Summary: “One Lucky Boy”

That night, Tansy comes into the boys’ room “like an avenging angel” (89) and accuses Russell of setting fire to the privy on purpose: muffling the school bell so they could not call for help, failing to clear the dry weeds behind the outhouse, and setting the fire.