Chapter 4: Benjamin is not admitted to college
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Of the life of Benjamin Button between his twelfth and twenty-first year I intend to say little. Suffice to record that they were years of normal ungrowth. When Benjamin was eighteen he was erect as a man of fifty; he had more hair and it was of a dark gray; his step was firm, his voice had lost its cracked quaver and descended to a healthy baritone. So his father sent him up to Connecticut to take examinations for entrance to Yale College. Benjamin passed his examination and became a member of the freshman class.
On the third day following his matriculation he received a notification from Mr. Hart, the college registrar, to call at his office and arrange his schedule. Benjamin, glancing in the mirror, decided that his hair needed a new application of its brown dye, but an anxious inspection of his bureau drawer disclosed that the dye bottle was not there. Then he remembered—he had emptied it the day before and thrown it away.
He was in a dilemma. He was due at the registrar's in five minutes. There seemed to be no help for it—he must go as he was. He did.
"Good-morning," said the registrar politely. "You've come to inquire about your son."
"Why, as a matter of fact, my name's Button—" began Benjamin, but Mr. Hart cut him off.
"I'm very glad to meet you, Mr. Button. I'm expecting your son here any minute."
"That's me!" burst out Benjamin. "I'm a freshman."
"I'm a freshman."
"Surely you're joking."
"Not at all."
The registrar frowned and glanced at a card before him. "Why, I have Mr. Benjamin Button's age down here as eighteen."
"That's my age," asserted Benjamin, flushing slightly.
The registrar eyed him wearily. "Now surely, Mr. Button, you don't expect me to believe that."
Benjamin smiled wearily. "I am eighteen," he repeated.
The registrar pointed sternly to the door. "Get out," he said. "Get out of college and get out of town. You are a dangerous lunatic."
"I am eighteen."
Mr. Hart opened the door. "The idea!" he shouted. "A man of your age trying to enter here as a freshman. Eighteen years old, are you? Well, I'll give you eighteen minutes to get out of town."
Benjamin Button walked with dignity from the room, and half a dozen undergraduates, who were waiting in the hall, followed him curiously with their eyes. When he had gone a little way he turned around, faced the infuriated registrar, who was still standing in the door-way, and repeated in a firm voice: "I am eighteen years old."
To a chorus of titters which went up from the group of undergraduates, Benjamin walked away.
But he was not fated to escape so easily. On his melancholy walk to the railroad station he found that he was being followed by a group, then by a swarm, and finally by a dense mass of undergraduates. The word had gone around that a lunatic had passed the entrance examinations for Yale and attempted to palm himself off as a youth of eighteen. A fever of excitement permeated the college. Men ran hatless out of classes, the football team abandoned its practice and joined the mob, professors' wives with bonnets awry and bustles out of position, ran shouting after the procession, from which proceeded a continual succession of remarks aimed at the tender sensibilities of Benjamin Button.
"He must be the wandering Jew!"
"He ought to go to prep school at his age!"
"Look at the infant prodigy!" "He thought this was the old men's home."
"Go up to Harvard!"
Benjamin increased his gait, and soon he was running. He would show them! He would
go to Harvard, and then they would regret these ill-considered taunts!
Safely on board the train for Baltimore, he put his head from the window. "You'll regret this!" he shouted.
"Ha-ha!" the undergraduates laughed. "Ha-ha-ha!" It was the biggest mistake that Yale College had ever made….
Answer the questions below. You can compare your answers to a given example.
1. Why was Benjamin Button not admitted to college?
2. What happened when Benjamin Button left the school building?
3. What did Benjamin Button decide at the end of this chapter?
1. Benjamin had not enough time to dye his hair black and therefore looked old when he met the school registrar Mr. Hart. As a consequence, Mr. Hart did not believe that Benjamin was only 18 years old. The registrar thought that Benjamin was playing a trick on him and got very angry. He did not believe that Benjamin wasa freshman and finally threw him out. He even called him a dangerous lunatic.
2. When Benjamin left the school building, a crowd began to form and follow him on his way to the railroad station. Finally, undergraduates, professors, professors' wives and the football team all followed Benjamin. They called him a lunatic and a Jew and shouted that he should go to Harvard university instead.
3. In the end, Benjamin decided to go to Harvard and to show the crowd that he was not a lunatic. He wanted them to regret the things they had said about him.