private peaceful summary of all chapters

Private Peaceful

Michael morpurgo, everything you need for every book you read..

Private Peaceful follows the early life of Tommo Peaceful , and is told from his perspective. The novel alternates back and forth between the present and Tommo’s recollections of the past.

The narrative begins in Tommo’s childhood. He is nervous about his first day of school, but his brother Charlie reassures him and gives him a piggyback on the way. Tommo is dreading school, but once he has arrived he meets a girl named Molly , who helps him to tie his shoelaces and smiles at him. Tommo knows from this first day that Molly will become his friend.

Tommo has a flashback to a day in the woods with his father . Tommo’s father was a woodcutter, and Tommo had joined him for the day. Tommo went off to play in the woods, and became engrossed in his imaginary games. Suddenly he heard a noise, and realized that a tree was falling. If he didn’t move, it would fall right on top of him, but he found himself frozen with fear. Before he knew it, his father was shouting and running at him. Tommo survived, but his father was crushed by the tree.

Tommo attends his father’s funeral in the village church with his family. They all notice a swallow swooping around the church, and Tommo thinks that the swallow is the spirit of his father trying to escape. After the funeral, Tommo’s mother tells Big Joe (Tommo and Charlie’s brother) that their father is up in heaven and “happy as the birds .” Tommo, however, feels burdened by the terrible guilt that he is responsible for his father’s death.

Big Joe has had brain damage since birth, which means that he is slightly “different” to his brothers, but they love him regardless. To them, he is just “Big Joe,” and he is always completely trusting, happy, smiling, and kind. One day, Molly tells Tommo that she likes Big Joe because she thinks he is kind, and Tommo decides that he will love her forever. Molly soon practically becomes part of the Peaceful family. She comes home with the boys every day after school, and the three kids become almost inseparable.

Everything is relatively happy in Tommo’s life for a while. The only problem is that he feels left out of his friendship with Molly and Charlie, because they are older than him. They both leave school and start work up at the village estate, which is owned by a terrible man named the Colonel , but Tommo is left behind in class. One day he sees Molly and Charlie holding hands, and feels a deep pang of “loss” and sadness. He realizes that they are leaving him behind and falling in love with each other.

Charlie has started a job working at the hunt kennels at the estate. One day, he confesses to Tommo that he’s in deep trouble. He has rescued a dog from the kennels because it was going to be shot, but he knows that the Colonel will accuse him of stealing it. Sure enough, the Colonel fires Charlie the next morning, and later kills Bertha the dog anyway, just out of personal spite.

After the dog incident, the Colonel tells Molly’s mother and Molly’s father that Charlie is a bad influence, so they ban Molly from seeing Charlie. Nevertheless, Charlie and Molly continue to meet each other in secret. Weeks later, Molly becomes accidentally pregnant, and is kicked out by her parents. Luckily, the Peaceful family welcome her with open arms, and Charlie promises to look after her and their baby. They get married soon after, although no one but the Peacefuls comes to the wedding.

Soon afterwards, the Colonel makes up his mind that Charlie must enlist to fight in the war, and tells the Peacefuls that he will evict them from their cottage (which the Colonel owns) if Charlie refuses. Charlie bravely accepts his fate, and Tommo resolves to join him, as Tommo is technically too young to be fighting anyway (he is only fifteen).

When the boys arrive at their training camp in France, they meet a terrible man named Sergeant Hanley . The arrogant Hanley is in charge of their company, and takes an instant dislike to Charlie, because Charlie won’t submit to him as the other men do. Hanley even starts picking on Tommo purely because he is Charlie’s brother. One day, Tommo becomes so exhausted from Hanley’s punishments that he collapses, and Charlie is so angry that he screams at Hanley in front of everyone. Hanley punishes Charlie, but the courageous Charlie takes his punishment with characteristic dignity.

Soon the soldiers are sent up to the front line, but find it to be very quiet at first. Their morale is kept high by Captain Wilkes , who often encourages the men to sing to stay jolly. Charlie and Tommo get everyone singing “ Oranges and Lemons ,” because it is a song that Big Joe always used to sing at home. The trenches are cold and full of rats and lice, but there is little fighting at first. The soldiers particularly enjoy visits to a local pub, where Tommo takes a liking to one of the waitresses.

One day, the company captures a German prisoner during an attack. The British soldiers realize that the German is actually just like them: he prays to the same God, and he looks exactly the same as them without his uniform on. They even share a cup of tea before he is taken away. Captain Wilkes is injured in the same mission that captures the German prisoner. Charlie loyally carries him to safety, and as thanks for his bravery and loyalty, Wilkes later leaves his precious golden watch to Charlie.

The company are sent up to the front line again. Their new commander is a man named Lieutenant Buckland , who has come straight from England. The soldiers think he seems young and inexperienced because of this, as he has seen less of the war than they have. One day, the British men head into battle, and Tommo is gravely injured. He can’t move his legs, and he loses sight of Charlie in the chaos. Lieutenant Buckland proves his naysayers wrong and courageously comes to Tommo’s assistance. He tries to carry Tommo back to safety, but is tragically killed as he stands by Tommo’s side.

When Tommo finally gets back to the trenches, he can’t find Charlie, and assumes that he is dead. In the middle of the night, Charlie returns. He was injured and couldn’t get back before now. The brothers hug each other and cry tears of relief. Charlie is taken to hospital, and when Tommo goes to visit him he learns that Charlie is being sent back to England to recover, which Tommo is very bitter about. Charlie manages to visit home while he is recovering in England, and meets his baby son for the first time. The baby has been called Thomas, or Little Tommo , in honor of Tommo.

Tommo decides to be brave and ask the girl in the local pub for her name. She tells him it is Anna , and they start to talk a little over his next few visits. One day, Tommo arrives at the pub and cannot see Anna anywhere. He tries to find her at her house, but Anna’s father tells Tommo that she has been killed by a stray explosion. Tommo goes to visit her grave and then returns despondently to camp. He wants to believe that Anna is in heaven, but finds that his faith has been destroyed by the war.

The next commander of Tommo’s company is none other than Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley, who proceeds to make all of the soldiers’ lives a living hell, constantly punishing them for the tiniest of offences. He becomes even worse when Charlie returns, and tells Charlie that he will be keeping a close eye on him.

In a huge battle a few weeks later, Tommo is gravely injured again. He feels a burning pain in his head and loses consciousness, and thinks that he is dying. Charlie pulls him up, and Tommo miraculously survives. The whole company are sheltering in a dugout, because they are surrounded on all sides by German guns. Everyone agrees that they should stay put, as to leave the dugout would be a case of almost certain death. Sergeant Hanley, however, has other ideas, and orders the men to move out and attack. Charlie refuses, telling him that this is a suicidal and pointless order, and that he will not abandon Tommo. Hanley tells Charlie that he will be executed if he doesn’t obey his order, but Charlie stubbornly stays put. The men go out to fight, and Charlie and Tommo remain in the dugout. While they wait, Charlie asks Tommo to promise that he will look after Molly and Little Tommo should anything happen to him, and Tommo agrees.

Only a few men return from the attack, unfortunately with Hanley still in their midst. As soon as they reach the British trenches again, Charlie is taken away under arrest. Six weeks later, Tommo is allowed to visit Charlie. It has already been decided that Charlie is going to be executed “for cowardice.” He will be executed tomorrow, and Tommo is only allowed to visit him for twenty minutes today. Charlie tells Tommo about his trial, which was completely unfair. He wasn’t allowed any witnesses, as the only possible witness was Tommo, who, as his brother, was deemed too biased. The only other person present was Sergeant Hanley. The judges listed to everything Hanley had to say and then blatantly ignored Charlie. They were biased from the start of the trial, and the verdict was made in less than an hour.

The boys then spend their remaining time together talking about their home. They end Tommo’s visit by singing “Oranges and Lemons” together, and then Tommo is called away. Tommo waits in a barn overnight for Charlie’s execution the next morning. His fellow soldiers try to offer him support, but he turns them all away and decides to spend the night alone, reflecting back on his past and his memories of Charlie. This is the story that the reader has just read.

When the time of Charlie’s execution arrives, Tommo goes outside and sings “Oranges and Lemons.” He knows Charlie will be singing it too, and it helps Tommo to feel connected to Charlie in his final moments. Tommo is sure that Charlie will be facing his death with dignity, with his head held high and a smile on his face. When he returns to camp, he finds all of his fellow soldiers standing to attention outside their tents to honor Charlie’s passing. The next day, Tommo’s regiment leaves for the Somme. All Tommo can think now is that he “must survive.” He has “promises to keep.”

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Private Peaceful - A Minute Past Three Summary & Analysis

Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo

A Minute Past Three Summary

Thomas and Charlie and their local friends are sent up to the front. Never again will they have to deal with Hanley, or so they all hope. None of them are particularly afraid of the front until the actually get there. They have to sleep standing up, and always have wet feet. There are mice, and lice to plague them, but the worst plague is the rain. It comes down constantly, leaving a river in the bottom of their trenches and churning their floor into mud. Everyone is cold. The captain told them that they were going to a quite sector, and it turns out that he was right. There is little gun fire, and all but one casualty is due to illness and cold, not German gun fire.

One day, it comes time for Charlie and...

(read more from the A Minute Past Three Summary)

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Private Peaceful

by Michael Morpurgo

Private peaceful summary and analysis of five to five & one minute to six.

Five to Five

In the present, Tommo muses that there are only sixty-five minutes to go; he wonders what he should do. He decides that nothing he can do will help: Private Peaceful will die. Tommo hopes that the execution will occur in the midst of nature.

Tommo thinks back to the war. In the past, Tommo wakes to the sound of machine guns and another bombardment and hears Charlie's voice distantly. Tommo can't move, and he suddenly realizes that he must have been buried alive when the dugout collapsed from the bombardment. He decides to think of Molly until he dies.

Then, he hears Charlie's voice and heard the sound of digging. Charlie and the other men have managed to pull Tommo out of the earth, and Charlie tells Tommo to stay still because he has lost a lot of blood.

Tommo asks where they are, and Charlie replies that they're in an old dugout somewhere in no man's land, surrounded on all sides. Suddenly, Sergeant Hanley appears and says that he is the one who gives the orders around here. He says that the men will charge out when he gives the order and they will press the attack until they reach the German trenches.

Tommo whispers to Charlie that he's not sure he can make it with all of his injuries, and Charlie tells him that it's all right. Hanley gives the other to charge, but none of the men move. Charlie speaks for them, explaining that it will be certain death to charge out into that hail of bullets. Hanley tells Charlie that it will be a court-martial for him if he refuses to charge, along with death by firing squad. Charlie remains steadfast and says that he needs to stay with his brother Tommo, who has been wounded. Hanley threatens to shoot Charlie, but he doesn't: instead, he gathers the rest of the men and charges out into the night. Tommo and Charlie hear the screams and rifle fire and know that the charge has gone as poorly as expected.

Later in the night, Charlie wakes Tommo and tells him that he needs to look after things. He asks whether Tommo still loves Molly, and Tommo does not reply. Charlie dies Tommo the watch that Captain Wilkes gave him.

At some point, Hanley and a few of the other men return to the dugout, saying nothing. In the dark of the night, they make their way across no man's land to safety. Tommo is placed on a stretcher and watches Charlie taken away under arrest. He does not see his brother for six weeks until after the court-martial.

Tommo is allowed to see Charlie on the day before his execution. Charlie is in good spirits, content in his little cell. He shows Tommo a letter from Molly, who tells him all about baby Tommo's antics. Tommo asks if Molly knows, and Charlie says she doesn't. Charlie explains that the court-martial was short and they seemed to have decided he was guilty before it even began based on Hanley's testimony. It doesn't help that Charlie has a previous record of insubordination from the time he yelled at Hanley for driving Charlie until he collapsed. Additionally, Charlie's foot wound was suspicious because such injuries can be easily self-inflicted. The whole court-martial took less than an hour before Charlie was sentenced.

The two brothers share food and talk about old times. Tommo confesses to Charlie about his role in his father's death and how he feels responsible for it. Charlie replies that he already knew: Tommo talks in his sleep. Charlie gives Tommo some letters for the family and Tommo promises he will deliver them. They sing "Oranges and Lemons: together one last time, and Charlie tells Tommo that he will sing this song during his execution.

Tommo returns to camp to the ironic news that Hanley is dead, blown up by a grenade. The men in the regiment are pleased by this, but they are distressed that Charlie will be executed. When the hour of Charlie's execution comes, Tommo decides that he will stand outside so that the two brothers will be under the same sky.

One Minute to Six

Tommo imagines what Charlie acts like before his execution. He would not struggle or cry: instead, he would walk with his head held high. The firing squad is made up of men from the regiment who know and respect Charlie, and they just want to get this awful task done with.

Charlie will be tied to the post and a priest will say a prayer. They try to draw a hood over Charlie's head, but he won't have it. Tommo stands outside and sings "Oranges and Lemons," as he imagines Charlie is doing. Tommo hears the distant sound of guns and knows that his brother's life is over. He is happy to note that the birds are singing.

Tommo goes to collect Charlie's belongings the next day. The men tell him that Charlie refused the hood and died singing "Oranges and Lemons." Tommo visits the place where Charlie is buried, a serene spot that Tommo thinks he would have liked. A few of the soldiers stand vigil over the grave.

The next day the soldiers march toward the Sonne. They have been told that there will be one last push and then they will be done. Tommo is determined to survive because he has promises to keep.

At the beginning o Five to Five, Tommo finally reveals what will happen at dawn: Private Peaceful will die, executed by firing squad for cowardice. However, Tommo does not specify that it is his brother Charlie who will die. This ambiguity actually serves to enhance and emphasize the connection between the two brothers: Tommo is so close to Charlie that it is almost like it is Tommo who is being executed in the morning. Interestingly, the scene that Tommo imagines for Charlie's execution matches reality perfectly. Tommo knows his brother so well that he knows exactly how he will behave when he is executed.

This section emphasizes the fundamental injustice faced by the many men who were executed for cowardice during World War I. Hanley, who accused Charlie of cowardice, was not only blatantly cruel but foolish as well. Charlie refused a poorly chosen and dangerous order. However, Hanley has the power to bring Charlie before a court-martial, which is much stricter than a regular court. Though Charlie is one of the bravest and kindest characters in the book, he is executed all the same.

Charlie saves Thomas from a great deal of danger on the battlefield. When Thomas becomes injured, Charlie never leaves his side, the paragon of faithfulness, and when commanded to reenter the battle Charlie, demonstrates his loyalty for Thomas. By this refusal to give his life on the battlefield, he dies a more meaningful death, a death demonstrating his love for Thomas. When he dies, he sings a silly song about "the last man dying." These are all indications that although the story is primarily about Tommo, and the novel is actually about what Charlie's sacrifice meant for Tommo.

Though he grieves it terribly, Charlie's death means that Tommo gets to be with the woman whom he loves most, raising a child whose life is a memory of Charlie's sacrifice for Tommo—a child who will be raised lovingly in the memory of a loved one. It does also mean that Tommo is a guardian of the child, but the child's real father is the one who made the great sacrifice. This is what a peaceful life means for Tommo: life with his beautiful best friend, Molly, while living in Charlie's memory.

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Private Peaceful Questions and Answers

The Question and Answer section for Private Peaceful is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.

Tommo all finds a job on the local estate.

Describe their final meeting.

I'm sorry, whose final meeting?

What is the Brotherhood theme

In the novel "Indian Horse" by Richard Wagamese, the Brotherhood theme is portrayed through the supportive relationships formed among the characters. Despite the challenges they face, Saul Indian Horse finds solace and a sense of belonging within...

Study Guide for Private Peaceful

Private Peaceful study guide contains a biography of Michael Morpurgo, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

  • About Private Peaceful
  • Private Peaceful Summary
  • Character List

Essays for Private Peaceful

Private Peaceful essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo.

  • The Theme of Gender in Pat Barker's "Regeneration" and Michael Morpurgo's "Private Peaceful"
  • Admiration as an Influence: Analyzing Tommo and His Brother

Wikipedia Entries for Private Peaceful

  • Introduction
  • Inspiration
  • Publication history

private peaceful summary of all chapters

Private Peaceful

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52 pages • 1 hour read

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapters 1-3

Chapters 4-6

Chapters 7-9

Chapters 10-13

Character Analysis

Symbols & Motifs

Important Quotes

Essay Topics

Discussion Questions

Authorial Context: Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo is a prolific English author celebrated for his contributions to young adult fiction. His extensive body of work spans over 100 books and often explores war’s profound and nuanced impact on individuals and society, including in books such as War Horse (1982) and The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips (2005). In recognition of his contributions, he was appointed the United Kingdom’s Children’s Laureate from 2003 to 2005.

Private Peaceful  (2003) is a key example of Morpurgo’s exploration of the complexities of war. During a visit to a World War I museum in Ypres, Belgium, the author, who served in the British army briefly, encountered a letter bearing the heart-wrenching news of a soldier’s execution over a charge of “cowardice.” Torn open along one side, the letter signified a pivotal moment: a mother’s life shattered by the devastating revelation of her son’s fate (“ Interview: Michael Morpurgo on Private Peaceful .”  British Theatre , 2022). This encounter moved Morpurgo and ignited his determination to shed light on the historical significance of the execution of British soldiers during World War I.

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  1. Private Peaceful Chapter 5


  1. Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo Plot Summary

    Private Peaceful follows the early life of Tommo Peaceful, and is told from his perspective. The novel alternates back and forth between the present and Tommo's recollections of the past. The narrative begins in Tommo's childhood. He is nervous about his first day of school, but his brother Charlie reassures him and gives him a piggyback on ...

  2. Private Peaceful Summary

    Private Peaceful Summary. The novel revolves around the life of Thomas (Tommo) Peaceful as he recounts his memories. Tommo has two older brothers. His oldest brother, Big Joe, has damage to his brain and so suffers from some developmental delays but is a kind person who loves animals. His second-oldest brother, Charlie, is an intelligent man ...

  3. Private Peaceful Summary

    Plot Summary. Private Peaceful follows the challenges that the Peaceful family faces as World War I approaches. The three Peaceful brothers, Thomas, Charlie, and Big Joe, and their close friend Molly are at the center of the story. Thomas, nearly 18, narrates his childhood recollections through a combination of flashbacks, exploring the bonds ...

  4. Chapters

    Chapters - Private Peaceful. Chapter 1: In the first chapter, Tommo Peaceful, an 18-year-old soldier at war, is trying to remember all of his childhood memories in one night. He thinks about his first day of school and how he was scared of Mr. Munnings. He remembers his Dad's funeral, as he believes that if he had run away from a falling tree ...

  5. Private Peaceful Summary & Study Guide

    Private Peaceful Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections: This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo. Alone in a barn in World War I Belgium, Private ...

  6. Private Peaceful Chapters 1-3 Summary & Analysis

    Subscribe for $3 a Month. Approaching school, Thomas notices a dead crow hanging from a fence. The unsettling sight evokes two memories within him. He first remembers a day when he stumbled upon a nest of robin eggs at the site of his father's grave. He contemplated adding the eggs to his collection of blackbird and pigeon eggs.

  7. Private Peaceful

    Five Past Ten Summary. Private Peaceful opens with the main character, Thomas Peaceful, finally alone. He is determined not to sleep this night, as he doesn't want to waste any time dreaming. He has nearly eighteen years of yesterdays and tomorrows, and he is determined to remember them all tonight. Thomas remembers his first day of school.

  8. Private Peaceful Summary and Analysis of Twenty-Five Past Three

    Summary. Twenty-Five Past Three. In the present moment, Tommo watches the mouse and thinks of a Scottish poem that Ms. McAllister made him memorize. Earlier, other men came to him and asked him if he'd like company through the night. Tommo told them no; he also sent away the military chaplain who had been sent to speak with him.

  9. Private Peaceful Study Guide

    Published in 2003, Private Peaceful is a young-adult novel by English author Michael Morpurgo, notable for his children's book War Horse. The book is written from the perspective of a soldier discussing his life experiences both before and during his service in the English army in World War I. The story moves from the countryside of England to ...

  10. Private Peaceful

    Private Peaceful Cover of first edition Author Michael Morpurgo Country United Kingdom Language English Genre War novel, children's novel Published 2003 Publisher HarperCollins Pages 185 ISBN 978--00-715006-9 OCLC 534265686765 Private Peaceful is a novel for older children by British author Michael Morpurgo first published in 2003. It is about a fictional young soldier called Thomas "Tommo ...

  11. Private Peaceful

    Charlie walked out onto the firing field with a smile on his face. He refused the hood and looked the men in their eyes. He cast his eyes skyward and began singing Oranges and Lemons to himself. The entire camp stands at attention to mourn with Thomas. The six men who were in the trench with Thomas and Charlie stand a vigil the whole night over ...

  12. Private Peaceful Themes

    Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "Private Peaceful" by Michael Morpurgo. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

  13. Private Peaceful Summary and Analysis of Twenty-Eight Minutes Past One

    Study Guide for Private Peaceful. Private Peaceful study guide contains a biography of Michael Morpurgo, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. About Private Peaceful; Private Peaceful Summary; Character List; Glossary; Themes; Read the Study Guide for Private Peaceful…

  14. Private Peaceful. Chapters Summary

    Private Peaceful. Chapters Summary - Free download as Word Doc (.doc / .docx), PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or read online for free. Private Peaceful. Chapters Summary

  15. Private Peaceful

    A Minute Past Three Summary. Thomas and Charlie and their local friends are sent up to the front. Never again will they have to deal with Hanley, or so they all hope. None of them are particularly afraid of the front until the actually get there. They have to sleep standing up, and always have wet feet. There are mice, and lice to plague them ...

  16. Private Peaceful Five to Five & One Minute to Six Summary and Analysis

    Private Peaceful Summary and Analysis of Five to Five & One Minute to Six. Summary. Five to Five. In the present, Tommo muses that there are only sixty-five minutes to go; he wonders what he should do. He decides that nothing he can do will help: Private Peaceful will die. Tommo hopes that the execution will occur in the midst of nature.

  17. Private Peaceful Background

    for only $0.70/week. Thanks for exploring this SuperSummary Study Guide of "Private Peaceful" by Michael Morpurgo. A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.