A tempest in school

Words: 701-800

Skills: Character Traits Context Clues Figurative Language Theme

Grades: 4th 5th 6th

Topics: Realistic Fiction

Genres: Prose

Lexile Range:

Lexile Measure:

CCSS: Reading: Literature

Themes:

A Tempest in the School Teapot


by Lucy Maud Montgomery from Anne of Green Gables

In this passage from "Anne of Green Gables," Anne has a difficult experience at school. She is singled out for punishment, and the punishment is an awful one for her. Students will read the passage and answer questions on character traits, the theme, and the language.

Reading Comprehension Passage

A Tempest in the School Teapot

by Lucy Maud Montgomery from Anne of Green Gables

School has started for Anne Shirley, the young orphan who lives with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert on their farm, Green Gables. Anne likes school, and she has many friends. One person she doesn't like is Gilbert Blythe. Gilbert made fun of Anne's hair, and she dislikes him very much.

Schools in Anne's time often had desks that were shared by two students. Male teachers were called the schoolmaster or "master." The "gum" mentioned here is from spruce resin, and it was a common treat in the past.

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Avonlea scholars often spent noon hour picking gum in Mr. Bell’s spruce grove over the hill and across his big pasture field. From there they could keep an eye on Eben Wright’s house, where the master boarded. When they saw Mr. Phillips emerging there from they ran for the schoolhouse; but the distance being about three times longer than Mr. Wright’s lane, they were very apt to arrive there, breathless and gasping, some three minutes too late.

On the following day Mr. Phillips was seized with one of his spasmodic fits of reform and announced before going home to dinner, that he should expect to find all the scholars in their seats when he returned. Anyone who came in late would be punished.

All the boys and some of the girls went to Mr. Bell’s spruce grove as usual, fully intending to stay only long enough to “pick a chew.” But spruce groves are seductive and yellow nuts of gum beguiling; they picked and loitered and strayed; and as usual the first thing that recalled them to a sense of the flight of time was Jimmy Glover shouting from the top of a patriarchal old spruce “Master’s coming.”

The girls who were on the ground, started first and managed to reach the schoolhouse in time but without a second to spare. The boys, who had to wriggle hastily down from the trees, were later; and Anne, who had not been picking gum at all but was wandering happily in the far end of the grove, waist deep among the bracken, singing softly to herself, with a wreath of rice lilies on her hair as if she were some wild divinity of the shadowy places, was latest of all. Anne could run like a deer, however; run she did with the impish result that she overtook the boys at the door and was swept into the schoolhouse among them just as Mr. Phillips was in the act of hanging up his hat.

Mr. Phillips’s brief reforming energy was over; he didn’t want the bother of punishing a dozen pupils; but it was necessary to do something to save his word, so he looked about for a scapegoat and found it in Anne, who had dropped into her seat, gasping for breath, with a forgotten lily wreath hanging askew over one ear and giving her a particularly rakish and disheveled appearance.

“Anne Shirley, since you seem to be so fond of the boys’ company we shall indulge your taste for it this afternoon,” he said sarcastically. “Take those flowers out of your hair and sit with Gilbert Blythe.”

The other boys snickered. Diana, turning pale with pity, plucked the wreath from Anne’s hair and squeezed her hand. Anne stared at the master as if turned to stone.

“Did you hear what I said, Anne?” queried Mr. Phillips sternly.

“Yes, sir,” said Anne slowly “but I didn’t suppose you really meant it.”

“I assure you I did”—still with the sarcastic inflection which all the children, and Anne especially, hated. It flicked on the raw. “Obey me at once.”

For a moment Anne looked as if she meant to disobey. Then, realizing that there was no help for it, she rose haughtily, stepped across the aisle, sat down beside Gilbert Blythe, and buried her face in her arms on the desk. Ruby Gillis, who got a glimpse of it as it went down, told the others going home from school that she’d “acksually never seen anything like it—it was so white, with awful little red spots in it.”

To Anne, this was as the end of all things. It was bad enough to be singled out for punishment from among a dozen equally guilty ones; it was worse still to be sent to sit with a boy, but that that boy should be Gilbert Blythe was heaping insult on injury to a degree utterly unbearable. Anne felt that she could not bear it and it would be of no use to try. Her whole being seethed with shame and anger and humiliation.

Passage Only

Reading Comprehension Questions

1. Briefly describe Mr. Phillips, the teacher.


2. What does askew mean here: "with a forgotten lily wreath hanging askew over one ear"?


3. How would you feel if you had to go sit next to someone as mean as Gilbert?


4. What type of figurative language is this: "Anne stared at the master as if turned to stone"?