Most of them have gotten past chapter 10, and the answers to my question, “Why is Dally’s death somehow sadder than Johnny’s?” are starting to trickle in. I’ll share some of those soon, when we talk about chapter 12, but I want to talk about this guy Jhonny.

(me, reading the first responses to the question, while they read silently) “‘Cal,’ how do you spell Johnny?”

“J-o-h-n-n-y.” Sort of puzzled.

“So, who’s this Jhonny guy?” I pronounce it like I’m clearing my throat, “Jah-Honny.”

Everybody laughs. Of course, as you know, 7th graders are like parrots; they have to repeat everything they hear that catches their attention. So now I have half the class sounding like they have a 2 pack-a-day habit.

“I figure I have at least 6 or 8 of you, in this class, who did the same thing. Who is this Jhonny guy? Some of you went even back and forth between Johnny and Jah-Honny.”

Every year is the same. Jhonny.

“Where does this come from? Who knows someone who spells his name that way? Where, in English, do we ever see the jh combo!?”

Of course, some try to claim that, “I knew a guy in 3rd grade who spelled it that way.” They sound like old guys lying about the fish they caught.

“No, you didn’t.”

I swear, ever since I’ve been teaching this novel, I get dozens of Jhonnies every year. Can somebody please explain to me?

“We’ve been reading the book for 6 weeks! You see his name all the time! It’s JOHNNY!”

“He’s kind of cranky today.”