Booth Tarkington's record of an 11-year-old boy living in Indiana is a true consideration of how the trivial insincerity of adults and the artlessness of children are humorously woven together to create encompassing moral puzzles. Whenever Penrod encounters an immediate problem by answering with a sudden response, conflicts become more confusing and less easily analyzed by a small boy. His young life is full of educational moments: he appears in a class production of The Round Table as a juvenile Lancelot in unexpected make-up and tights; he uses his Sunday school money to buy a bag of candy and a movie ticket; his attendance at Friday Afternoon Dance Class is in opposition to his summer night questing excursions; he is blamed when his sister's dress is found in the doghouse. Because he is desirous of being indecipherable, he practices a mysterious and unemotional expression. He knows "the world" would misunderstand "everything" about him, so an instinct for self-preservation persuades him to give society as little evidence as possible to convict him. His most calm and honest occasions are spent with his dog Duke, a thoughtful scraggly dog who is almost unwillingly loyal. "Penrod" is an incredible story, enlightening and profound and genuinely comical.
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