The Mill on the Floss By George Eliot Summary and Analysis Book 2: School-Time: Chapter 3 - The New Schoolfellow

Summary

When he returns to school, Tom meets Philip Wakem. Mr. Stelling introduces the two boys and then leaves them alone together. Philip is a small, deformed youth with a hump as the result of a childhood accident. Tom feels an aversion to him, and Philip is too proud and timid to speak, so they are both silent until Tom sees the pictures which Philip is drawing. He is struck with admiration for their realism. They begin to talk, and Philip says that he has taught himself drawing and that he likes Latin. He tells Tom that the Greeks were "great fighters," and Tom is eager to hear stories of heroes.

Wishing to even the balance, Tom tells Philip that he "thrashed all the fellows at Jacobs'" and allows himself to feel superior because Philip does not like fighting.

Analysis

Philip Wakem is a shock to Tom's sense of consistency. Although he cannot see that Philip's deformity is accidental and not inherited, Tom is forced to recognize Philip's superiority in other ways; and the fact that Philip loves his father gives at least a small shock to Tom's cherished prejudices.

Nevertheless, Tom has no desire to be like Philip in any way. He retains his disgust with deformity, and the things he is proudest of — his courage and athletic ability — are sufficiently different from Philip's tastes that they can never become friends. With his intelligence and sensitivity Philip is a good deal like Maggie.

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After the lawsuit and Tom arrives home from school, what does he find his mother most concerned with?




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