Summary of Private Peaceful

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Tommo reflects on his life up till now from a barn in the battlefields of France in The Great War. Each chapter begins with Tommo telling us the time, as if he is taking part in some kind of vigil, the true nature of which is revealed at the end of the book. His first actual memory is his first day at school. His brother, Charlie, piggybacks him there. Tommo has listened to all of Charlie's fearsome tales of the strict Mr. Munnings, who runs the school and teaches the "bigguns" class. The "tiddlers" class is taught by Miss McAllister, who is much kinder. Tommo is, of course, put into the tiddlers class (Charlie's in the bigguns). In the tiddlers class, Tommo is told by Miss McAllister that his bootlaces are untied. He feels like everyone is laughing at him, and cries. Then Miss McAllister tells Molly, the oldest girl in the class, to tie his laces. She does, and afterwards, smiles at Tommo. Tommo falls in love with her immediately, and, later at playtime, he teaches himself to tie his laces. One day at playtime Tommo gets a visit from his other brother, Big Joe, who doesn't go to school, despite being older than Charlie. Big Joe was born with meningitis, and, although physically he recovered, mentally he was handicapped for life. Big Joe is friendly, never aggressive, sings a lot, and loves animals. This time he has come to show Tommo a beautiful slow-worm. He does so, then leaves, singing Oranges and Lemons, his favourite song. Soon, up comes Jimmy Parsons, from the bigguns class, and insults Big Joe to Tommo's face. Tommo is irate and attacks Jimmy, but to no avail. Jimmy gives him a mild nose bleed. Charlie sees the fight and leaps on Jimmy, knocking him to the ground. They fight and curse, rolling around on the ground. Meanwhile Mr. Munnings hears the noise from outside (the whole playground has come to cheer on whoever they want to win), and runs
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