Mary Mapes Dodge's lesson, "The Little Hero of Holland," is based on a true story. 'Peter,' an eight-year-old child, is the protagonist of this story. As everyone in Holland, including small children, understood the significance of dikes, Peter, who was also from Holland, knew as well.
Flood control is achieved through the use of dikes. Dikes safeguard settlements from coastal erosion in several sections of the country. Many villages are surrounded by dikes that protect them from the sea. There are hundreds of dikes all throughout Holland, and they are being built at a faster rate to protect people, because the sea is growing larger every year, and it threatens to flood the entire country, causing more horrific harm than anyone can imagine!
This story is centred around the dikes in Holland and the bravery of a little boy. As the country of Holland lies below sea level, these dikes (huge walls) protect people from floods, as mentioned earlier. The people of Holland have laboured for years to keep the walls strong so that their nation remains safe and dry. Even small children are aware that the dikes must be constantly monitored and that a hole the size of a finger can be extremely dangerous. Hence, the introduction of the story is over, and now let's enter into the lesson.
Many years ago, in the country of Holland, a small boy named Peter lived. He is the protagonist of this story. Peter's father worked as a gatekeeper, a man who was in charge of the dikes' sluice gates, an essential position in Holland that didn't require any further explanation given the importance of dikes. He was in charge of the sluice gates, which allowed ships to pass through the canals of Holland and into the sea.
It was a beautiful autumn day. Peter's mother had given him a task while he was playing on that day afternoon. As Peter was eight years old, he was mature enough to complete the task assigned by his mother. She tasked him with delivering cakes to a blind man who lived across the dike and is a friend of Peter's. She also told him that Peter would be able to reach home before dark if he travelled quickly and did not spend more time playing with his blind friend.
The 'autumn season,' which occurs between summer and winter, is referred to as 'fall.'
Peter was overjoyed to see his friend and eagerly began his trek. He arrived at his friend's house and spent some time talking to the poor blind man about his trip along the dike, the sun, the flowers, and the distant ships. He then remembered his mother's warning that if he didn't spend time with his friend, he might return before dusk. After saying his goodbyes to his friend, he resumed his trek back to his house.
As Peter had walked near the canal, he noticed how the recent rain had increased the water density and so how they beat against the side of the dike more than usual times. At that time, he was reminded of his father who was appointed to look after the sluice gates near dikes. Sluices are bridges that connect the dikes on both sides and allow people to cross from one to the other.
Peter said to himself that he was glad that the powerful dikes had prevented sea water from entering the country. Also, he reasoned to himself that if those dikes had let the water in, things must had been far worse for those lovely fields to be flooded.
His father referred to it as "angry waters" that were slamming on the dikes and attempting to enter the land. Peter, too, felt as if the sea water was enraged with his father, who had blocked the waters from coming into the land for a long time as a sluice gatekeeper.
The preceding paragraphs provide ample insight into how even children in Holland knew the value of dikes. Moreover, though Peter appears to be having fun, his thoughts suggest that he is a responsible citizen and his approach toward the defence of his country is admirable.
Peter started early from his friend's house, as per his mother's advice, but he didn't follow it completely. It's because he used to stop in the middle of the road to pick the gorgeous blue flowers that grew alongside the road, or to listen to the rabbits' soft tread as they rustled through the grass. But when he remembered his visit to the poor blind man who had so few pleasures in life and was always pleased to see him, he grinned even more.
The poor blind friend had few comforts, one of which appeared to be his meeting with Peter. On the other side, Peter was overjoyed to be spending time with his friend.
He had forgotten one thing while spending time in nature. It was the fact that the sun was lowering and the sky was becoming darker. He knew his mother would be waiting for him and worried that he wouldn't make it home on time; in fact, she had previously warned him not to waste time playing so that he could get home on time and so he ran forward as quickly as he could.
Peter heard the sound of trickling water as he walked towards his house. He then took a break from strolling and began to seek the source of the noise. To his surprise, he saw a small hole in the dike near where he was, and water was running through it. As indicated in the introduction, even a child in Holland knows the significance of dikes and knows how even a minor leak in one would devastate their country. Any child in Holland might feel terrified at the possibility of a dike leak.
Peter was well aware of the dangers of water leaking through the dike hole. Even if it was a minor hole, he knew that a continual leak through the dike could cause a flood in Holland. Therefore Peter, the young child, was determined to do something to stop the water from flowing. He threw away all of the flowers he had acquired on his journey, climbed down the dike's side, and pushed his finger into the little hole. The water leak got stopped temporarily.
After closing the hole, Peter happily told himself that the angry sea water could not enter the land since he had closed the water-leaking hole with his finger. He was so determined about preventing water from entering Holland that he told himself, "Holland shall not drown while I am here."
Peter was only eight years old at the time. Despite his confidence and determination, he was too young to keep up his effort to close the dike hole. He was at first unconcerned, but as time passed, it grew too dark and cold for him.
Peter, who was only eight years old at the time, required assistance in handling the water leakage from the dike. He cried and yelled, but no one responded since no one heard him. After a few hours, Peter's hand began to hurt from the cold water and eventually went stiff and numb. He couldn't bear the cold and ache in his hands as the temperature dropped with the flow of time. He didn't give up, though. “Will no one come? "Mother, Mother," he screamed once again. No one came to his aid because no one had heard of him on that dark, lonely night.
Peter's mother anxiously awaited his return as he was told to return before dark. She became anxious as Peter did not return home and so she kept watching the dike road waiting for him to arrive since nightfall. But, as the night grew darker, she assumed Peter had decided to stay with his blind companion. She'd then shut the cottage door, intending to scold Peter the next morning for staying at his friend's house without permission.
Peter, on the other hand, got stuck in his effort as nobody was near to help him, and so he tried to whistle to call for help, but the cold made his teeth chatter. While a whistling sound is louder than a typical human voice, it also indicates that someone requires assistance.
The little boy thought of his brother and sister, as well as his dear father and mother, who would sleep well that night in their warm beds. Despite feeling cold, he convinced himself that allowing the water to reach Holland would result in the drowning of his family members. Peter's persona exhibits more responsibility, affection, determination, and courage, despite his young age. He made the decision to stay in the same place until another person arrived, even if it meant staying the entire night.
"The moon and stars looked down on the child crouching on a stone on the side of the dike, the author writes, reflecting on his vision. This draws attention to his imagination. These phrases also convey the small boy's isolated, pitiful, and uncomfortable state as he bent on a stone on the dike's side. Peter did not sleep, and rubbed his chilly hands to keep warm while continuing to seal the dike hole from the sea.
Even though Peter was a small boy of eight years, he was so determined to help his homeland that he did not give up his patriotic thoughts at any time. He told himself that he would stand the entire night holding the leaking dike, bearing the cold, fear, sea water, etc., and he did. Peter's patriotism, love for his family, and determination were shown by his attitude.
As previously stated, despite finding it hard to close the dike hole with his small hands throughout the night, Peter did not abandon the task. The next morning, a man walked along the top of the dike, passed by the path where Peter was and he heard a groaning sound there. At last, someone came to help Peter and everything seemed to be back to normal.
He observed Peter clinging to the dike's side from over the edge. The term 'great wall' refers to a Holland dike and specifically the place near where Peter was, in this context. The man then approached Peter and inquired as to what was going on, assuming Peter had fallen or injured himself. Peter responded that he was blocking the opening to keep the water out of Holland.
He then screamed, pleading for help to cover the seawater hole. As a result, the gentleman was able to comprehend Peter's sacrifice and how Peter (small kid) had saved their motherland the night prior.
The man then realised the situation and recognised Peter's dedication towards saving Holland. Soon after, the alarm was raised, and the residents from all across the village arrived with shovels in hand to close the dike hole. They quickly fixed the hole and assisted Peter in returning home to his parents. And the news of the bravery of the little boy (Peter) quickly spread across the town, as they heard how the small boy had saved their lives the previous night. They all realised the fact that if Peter hadn't been there, or if he hadn't cared to stop the leak, their home may have been flooded and they would have even lost in their lives.
The lesson teaches us many things and we can a learn lot from Peter.
a. 'Self-help is the best aid,' since if Peter had gone to get something from someone during that dark night, the water leaking may have gotten so bad that the dike hole would have been submerged by the time he returned, and the problem would have gone worse.
a. Patriotism - We should be proud of supporting/helping our country in times of need, regardless of our age, power, or position.
c. Determination - We must be persistent in our determination to complete a task as intended.
d. Courage- Do not be scared to face difficulties, especially if it involves something important/emergency.
Peter's story was based on a true incident that took place in Holland many years ago. People in Holland have never forgotten Peter's valiant efforts, and he is still regarded as the brave little hero who saved Holland.