by Joaquin G. (Grade 6)
Johnny Tremain is a historic fiction novel written by Esther Forbes in 1943. This story takes place in Boston during the dawn of the Revolutionary War. Johnny Tremain is an apprentice to a silversmith whose name is Mr. Lapham. He is gifted, clever, and a fast learner which is why he is a lot better than the other apprentices. All the other boys worship him. His one dream was to become a master silversmith like Mr. Lapham, but a terrible accident happened as he was working. A crucible breaks and silver burns Johnny’s right hand. Johnny’s dream of being a master silversmith has been broken. Johnny is now useless, and all the boys don’t admire him and think he’s a freak. Since he can’t be a silversmith, he must find a new job and home. Soon he has a new life fighting in the Revolutionary War. He meets John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere. Although times are hard with the war, he must not give up. The moral of the story is to push through and persevere during times of war and hardships in life.
Descriptive writing is just like painting a picture. This type of writing contains very juicy details, precise language, a certain organization, and definitely has figurative language. Common adjectives, nouns, and passive verbs definitely do not have a place in good descriptive writing. Using specific adjectives and nouns and strong action verbs GIVE LIFE to the picture the author is trying to paint in the reader’s mind. Good descriptive writing includes vivid sensory details that paint a picture and makes the reader feel all the senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste when needed. It may also give feelings to the reader.
Good descriptive writing often has precise language which is when a writer or an author uses specific adjectives, nouns, and verbs. General adjectives, nouns, and passive verbs aren’t supposed to be in descriptive writing. Specific, precise language is when you describe something in a beautiful way. For example, in Johnny Tremain on page 107, Johnny describes a horse he sees by stating, “ Rab had gone into one of many stalls and backed out a tall, slender horse, so pale he was almost white, but flecked all over with tiny brown marks. The main and tail were a rich, blackish mahogany. His eyes were glassy blue.” You can tell that this sentence is an example of precise language because Johnny is describing the horse with things like juicy adjectives like rich blackish mahogany. Johnny is just admiring how beautiful this horse is.
Figurative language is when you’re describing something except it shouldn’t be taken literally or you’re describing something that you’re comparing. For example, on page 35 in Johnny Tremain, the author writes, “The far-off rooster was an alarm clock for the sleeping soldiers.” This sentence is an example of a metaphor, which compares two unlike things. In this metaphor, the rooster and the clock are being compared. The narrator is just saying that the rooster is waking all the soldiers far away including everyone in the town and him.
Personification is another example of figurative language that could be found in this historic fiction novel. For example, on page 78 in Johnny Tremain, the author writes, “The ships spoke from the harbor to the British across the sea.” You can tell that this sentence uses personification because the author is saying that the harbor spoke to the British by making noise. Personification is when human characteristics are given to a non-human subject.
Good descriptive writing is often organized. Some ways descriptive writing is organized is by chronological order, spatially by location, or by order of importance. Or an author may use descriptive writing by writing about the character’s appearance. An example would be from head to toe. Esther Forbes used this type of writing on page 147 when Johnny describes larger to smaller details, “He had noticed a stout boy with a blackened face working near him. The boy looked familiar, but when he saw his white, fat hands, Johnny knew he had to keep a sharp eye on him.”