The March King, Katherine Little Bakeless: Summary & Analysis

"The March King" is a heartwarming story that revolves around the life of Philip Sousa, the son of the renowned composer and conductor, John Philip Sousa. The narrative beautifully portrays the impact of John Philip Sousa's musical talents and the bands he leads on his son, Philip, in the early 1860s in Washington, D.C.

Summary of "The March King" by Katherine Little Bakeless

The story begins with a young Philip witnessing the United States Marine Band, led by his father, marching past their home. Filled with joy and admiration for his father's musical prowess, Philip decides to follow in his footsteps and pursue a career in music. He enrolls in a music school, where he quickly excels in playing the violin.

However, Philip also enjoys playing baseball, and one day, he faces a dilemma. He has to perform a violin solo and participate in a baseball game on the same day. Exhausted and dirty after the baseball game, Philip arrives home to find that his mother has been called away and won't return until late at night. He realizes that he has no clean shirt to wear for the violin concert.

In a stroke of luck, Philip's music teacher comes to his aid, lending him oversized clothes. With the help of the teacher's wife, they manage to pin the shirt to fit Philip properly. Despite his anxieties about his makeshift attire, Philip arrives at the concert.

During the performance, Philip becomes concerned that the pin on his shirt might loosen, risking an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction. However, he remains determined and successfully completes his violin solo, receiving warm applause from the audience.

In conclusion, Philip reflects on the challenges he faced to pursue his passion for music and expresses that the journey was worthwhile. "The March King" beautifully captures the theme of following one's love and career according to one's inborn taste and aptitude, showcasing how one can thrive in life by embracing their passions, just as Philip Sousa did in the world of music.

Theme of "The March King": Pursuing Passion Amidst Adversity

The central theme of the heartwarming story "The March King" revolves around the idea of relentlessly pursuing one's passion despite encountering obstacles. From a young age, it becomes evident that Philip possesses a profound love for music, evident in his constant practice to become an accomplished violinist. However, his ardent devotion to baseball almost hinders his participation in the prestigious annual concert he was invited to perform in. Nevertheless, Philip refuses to be deterred and seeks support from his music teacher to overcome the challenge.

A Passionate Pursuit

Philip's unwavering commitment to his love for music drives him to seek opportunities to excel in his violin playing. He dedicates himself to constant practice, honing his skills with determination and dedication. Despite facing the tempting allure of baseball, Philip's passion for music remains steadfast, guiding his choices and shaping his ambitions.

Overcoming Obstacles

The story skillfully illustrates the hurdles that arise when Philip's love for baseball coincides with his musical obligations. The clash of interests presents a significant challenge, but Philip's indomitable spirit refuses to let his dreams be thwarted. Instead, he confronts the obstacle head-on and seeks guidance from his trusted music teacher, Professor Esputa, for a solution.

Determination and Hard Work

Philip's journey is one of perseverance, determination, and hard work. He refuses to succumb to the pressure of conflicting commitments and instead harnesses his passion for music to propel him forward. With unwavering resolve, he prepares himself for the concert, investing his efforts and energy into perfecting his violin solo.

Triumph and Recognition

Philip's unwavering pursuit of his passion culminates in a triumphant moment during the concert. Despite the challenges he faced, he delivers a remarkable performance, leaving the audience impressed and showering him with positive compliments. The recognition and applause he receives reinforce the significance of staying true to one's passions and persevering through obstacles.

The Moral: Never Giving Up on Dreams

The narrative delivers a poignant moral: one should never abandon their dreams and should always ardently pursue what they are passionate about. Philip's journey serves as an inspiring example of how determination and resilience can lead to the realization of one's aspirations, even in the face of adversity.

Parental Support and Educational Opportunities

Another underlying aspect of the story is the pivotal role of parental support and educational opportunities in nurturing a child's ambitions. Philip's father, the renowned composer and conductor, John Philip Sousa, serves as a guiding influence, encouraging his son's love for music by setting a positive example. The story highlights how nurturing environments, like that of a supportive family and quality education, can provide a conducive atmosphere for a child's growth and success.

In conclusion, "The March King" beautifully weaves a tale of passion, determination, and triumph. It emphasizes the importance of pursuing one's dreams with unwavering perseverance, even when faced with obstacles. Through Philip's journey, the story inspires readers to embrace their passions, seek support from mentors, and forge ahead on a path of excellence and fulfillment.

Characters in "The March King"


Philip is the young protagonist of the story, driven by an ardent passion for music. Captivated by his father's musical talents and inspired by the bands he observes in Washington, D.C., Philip aspires to become an accomplished violinist. Despite facing obstacles, such as conflicting interests with baseball, he displays unwavering determination to pursue his love for music. Philip's character exemplifies resilience, dedication, and the pursuit of one's dreams.

John Philip Sousa

John Philip Sousa, the father of Philip, is a prominent figure in the musical world. As a renowned musician and composer, he leads the United States Marine Band. A source of inspiration for Philip, Sousa encourages his son's passion for music by serving as a positive role model. His supportive nature and guidance play a pivotal role in nurturing Philip's love for music and fostering his musical journey.

Philip's Mother

Philip's mother is a supportive figure in his life, though her presence in the story is limited. Her understanding and encouragement contribute to Philip's pursuit of his passion for music. While her role may be less prominent, her love and support serve as a crucial foundation for Philip's growth and development.

Professor Esputa

Professor Esputa is Philip's dedicated music teacher, providing valuable guidance and instruction in his musical journey. When faced with the challenge of participating in both a violin concert and a baseball game on the same day, Philip turns to Professor Esputa for assistance. The teacher's willingness to help, lending him oversize clothes for the performance, showcases the importance of mentors in nurturing a student's aspirations.

Mrs. Esputa

Mrs. Esputa, the wife of Professor Esputa, plays a supportive role in Philip's story. She assists in fitting the borrowed shirt to Philip's size, demonstrating care and consideration for his success. Her presence adds to the nurturing environment that aids Philip in overcoming obstacles and realizing his musical ambitions.

In conclusion, the characters in "The March King" collectively contribute to the story's exploration of passion, determination, and support. Philip's journey is shaped by the influence of his father, John Philip Sousa, and the encouragement provided by his music teacher, Professor Esputa, and Mrs. Esputa. These characters exemplify the significance of mentors and supportive environments in fostering a child's pursuit of their dreams.

The Uplifting Message of "The March King"

Katherine Little Bakeless's "The March King" is an inspiring tale that encourages readers to follow their passions and vocations, guided by their innate abilities and preferences. The story underscores the importance of perseverance and determination in pursuing one's goals, as exemplified by Philip's unwavering commitment to music despite facing setbacks. It also highlights the impact of role models, like John Philip Sousa, who serve as sources of motivation and inspiration for others.

In summary, "The March King" delivers a powerful and uplifting message, urging individuals to embrace their true passions, persist in their pursuits, and find inspiration in the exemplary figures that shape their journey.

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