1. Richard Knight
- outspoken, courageous [stood up against class bullies]
- hardworking helpful [work hard on his studies]
2. Joyce Kilmer
- kind supportive [asks Richard to share his poems with him and others]
- understanding [insist on privacy when he speaks to Richard]
4. Hannah Schermer
- generous, gentle [bakes cookies for Kilmer, which Richard sends to France]
Place: hannah's home (schemers') [safe haven for Richard where he can share his
poetry, benefit from the more cultures German family and build a closer
relationship with Hannah]
- classroom, Chicago, New York, Germany
1. The challenges of growing up
- Hannah faces the challenges of coming from a migrant German family, new to
Iowa. Thus she has to endure the pain of ostracism and rejection by the
majority of fearful, unreasonable classmates and country people
2. Humanity and friendship gives us hope
- being king to others when they are facing difficulty reveals the basic
goodness of man, and underlines our humanity
3. Love, understanding and family relationships
- the schemer family in contrast is a more balanced and happy one There is joy,
laughter, communication, music, singing, book and literature in their home
4. Where there is prejudice, there is no lesson
- Richard is unlike many irrational and biassed people in his community. He is
logical, sensitive and perceptive. He continues to befriend Hannah and her
family despite his family's comments
1. Courage and resilience
- Hannah turns down the role of Lady Liberty which she wanted very much even
though she deserves it fairly
2. Truth, integrity and honor
- Richard tell his father the truth that he purposely misfired as he could not
bear killing the beautiful duck
3. Compassion and understanding
- Joyce Kilmer understanding Richard's challenges and gives him a lot of
encouragement and support
Richard is standing at Schermer's doorway, too stunned to cry. With great
compassion, the family brings him inside.
Mr Schermer gently shows him the headline "Beloved American Poet Killed in
Battle" in the newspaper. Richard gazes at the smiling face for the first
time after his death. The article recounts the circumstances of Kilmer's death
and how his comrades bury him in France.
Richard is too shocked to cry and realises that the unposted letter to Kilmer's
is still in his pocket. Reality strikes and the tears begin to well up, He
thanks the Schermers and runs to his favourite oak tree where he cries freely.
He is filled witrh hopelessness as he ponders the unanswered question on what
poets and poetry can do to make the world a better place. He realises that
poets are unable to stop war.
When he returns home he composes a poem In Memory of Sergeant Joyce
Kilmer. It has four verses expressing sadness over the loss of a world of rhyme
and song he had treasure.
Richard visits the schermers the next day and shares this poem with them. They
are all touched by his beautiful poetic piece. Mr Schermer insists that more
people should read the poem as so many families in Turtle Lake have lost their
loved ones. Richard 's poem would mean a lot to local residents, espicially
because it is 'coming from one of their own.
Despite his panic at the thought of having his poem published in the Turtle
Lake Weekly, Richard agrees to the idea. Hannah immidiately accompanies him to
the newspaper office. However, he flees ad Mr Garrison begins to read his poem.
He fear Pa's reaction if his poem is printed.
When Tuesday arrives, Richar buys a copy of the newspaper and to his horror,
sees his poem printed in the middle of page 3. As Pa gets his newspaper from
his mailbox, Richard rushes to hide in his room.
Surprisingly, Pa calmly walks in and sits at the edge of Guy's bed. After a
long silence, Pa begins to share about Uncle Rolamd who, like Gus, was a little
reckless, and thought he was invincible. Sadly, Uncle Roland was the only war
casualty in the Battle of El Garney on July 1 which America won. Pa breaks down
and Richard reaches out to comfort him. "A world is gone! A world is dead
and gone!" Pa had whispered to himself as Roland's body was lowered into
the grave. "How didi you know those words?" ask Pa in a breaking a
breaking voice. Richard remains silent because both of them finally understand why
he writes poems.
The war in mid-November with an Allied victory . As winter approaches, Richard
works at the farm and at school. He spends time with Hannah and her family and
continues to write poems.
Soon his poems are regularly featured in the local weekly. Richard's father is
now his consultant as his poems deal with farm life and Pa is an expert,
Richard happy that Pa's ideas and suggestions are as helpful as Joyce Kilmer's