Literature / The Whipping Boy

The Whipping Boy is a children's novel by Sid Fleischman.

Prince Horace, better known as "Prince Brat", runs away from home, and forces his servant Jemmy (whose job it is to be whipped in the prince's place whenever the prince misbehaves, since it's illegal to whip royalty) to accompany him.

Winner of the 1987 Newbery Medal.

This book provides examples of:

  • Adaptation Expansion: The book eventually got a short movie that added a lot of other things to the original plot, including Jemmy having been an orphan street rat with a younger sister (who catches rats to sell for rat-catching games). Horace also doesn't run away on a whim, but instea out of anger at his father after a prank where Horace releases rats at a formal dinner gravely offends a visiting ambassador, leaving his father to declare he's had enough, and that there will be no more whipping boy, among other punishments. Jemmy's sister is also arrested on flimsy pretenses after being falsely accused of being a thief by a rich man.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Whipping boys were actually Truth in Television, believe it or not. Children from poor families considered it a pretty good deal, despite the whippings, since they got to be educated alongside the children of royalty.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Betsy and Petunia arrive in time to stop the thugs from attacking the two boys. And when they refuse to let them go, Betsy yells "Sic 'em, Petunia!", and the bear chases them off.
  • Break the Haughty: Prince Horace.
  • Butt Monkey: Jemmy, which kind of comes with the territory of being a whipping boy.
  • Character Development: Prince Horace towards the end. Jemmy to a certain extent as well.
  • Don't Make Me Take My Belt Off: Jemmy's job is to take spankings in place of the prince, since it's forbidden to touch royalty.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: "Prince Brat". Horace is mortified when he hears it and realizes his subjects don't respect him, which is a key moment in his character development.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Betsy's dancing bear, Petunia.
  • It's All About Me: Horace, a spoiled brat that neglects his learning, constantly causes trouble, and is stuck up and haughty.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Prince Horace.
  • Mistaken for Servant: When the prince and Jemmy are abducted, the abductors believe Jemmy is the prince and Horace is the whipping boy, because Jemmy has better manners and hasn't been shirking his education.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Hold-Your-Nose Billy and Cutwater.
  • Pride Before a Fall: Prince Horace.
  • Prince and Pauper: Horace and Jemmy don't exactly look alike, but they do manage to be mistaken for each other.
  • Royal Brat: Prince Horace.
  • The Runaway: Prince Horace runs away out of sheer boredom and drags Jemmy along for the ride.
  • The Scapegoat: Jemmy's role as the whipping boy.
  • Street Smart: Jemmy.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Hold-Your-Nose Billy and Cutwater.

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