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MonkeyNotes-Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham
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Chapters XV-XXI

Summary

Philip graduates from preparatory school and at the age of thirteen enters King's School, a well established institution known for its excellence in learning. It is conforming and traditional in every way, with a curriculum based on the classics. When Mr. Perkins replaces the old headmaster, he is looked down upon. Though he is well qualified for the job, others judge him as unfit because he belongs to a family of linen drapers. Perkins brings many changes to the school, which harms his reputation even more. Philip, however, admires the new headmaster for his kindness, intelligence, and insight. He even starts taking an interest in religion again because it is taught by Perkins and for a time considers being ordained.

Philip makes friends with a boy named Rose, who helps him gain confidence. Then Philip contracts scarlet fever and has to stay away from school for a long while. When he returns from Blackstable after recovering, he finds that Rose has a new friend and little interest in him. Deprived of friendship once again, Philip starts losing interest in school and thinks about leaving. Perkins and his uncle try unsuccessfully to dissuade him. He finally departs the King's School and heads to Germany, for he wants to see the world.


Notes

In these chapters, Maugham cynically mocks the old staff at the King's School who value tradition and social status more than education and erudition. Perkins, though very intelligent and well- educated, is rejected by them because he is not considered to be a gentleman due to his family's status. When he changes the curriculum, to allow French and German to be taught, they are horrified. Philip, however, is attracted to Perkins, probably because the older teachers taunted him about his deformity and belittled his intelligence. Perkins, on the other hand, recognizes his intelligence, appreciates his knowledge, and encourages him to do his best.

As Philip grows from child to adolescent, there is a transformation in his attitude and behavior, as seen in these chapters. Like most boys his age, he goes through significant mood swings and rapid change of opinion. One moment he cares, and the next moment he hates. He also becomes intolerant of those who lack his intelligence and makes bitter remarks about them, an action that isolates him even further. When Rose extends a hand of friendship to Philip, he is delighted and blossoms with the companionship. The friendship is an odd one, for Rose is a complete contrast to Philip. He is big, athletic, well-liked, charming, and not a very good student. Unfortunately, Philip is jealous of Rose and does not want to share his attention. He quarrels often with his friend, which irritates Rose. When Rose rejects him after his long absence due to the scarlet fever, Philip is miserable, and his studies suffer. Despite the encouragement of his uncle and Perkins to stay in school, Philip decides to leave. He has lost interest in ever joining the clergy, for he is very critical of the behavior of his uncle and the other Vicars and religious leaders. He is especially upset when Perkins and his uncle try to trick him into staying. Philip wants to see the world and decides to travel to Germany.

It is important to notice that Philip's aunt is still sensitive and caring in her own inept way. She buys him a watercolor set, and Philip enjoys using it. His paintings show that he has some natural talent, which comes into play later in the novel.

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MonkeyNotes-Of Human Bondage by William Somerset Maugham
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