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In the documentary novel by Avi, “Nothing But the Truth,” the outcome can be blamed on multiple people, depending on which side you take in the story. Philip is mostly to blame for the outcome, having started the whole story by breaking a known rule, telling a one-sided story, and by disrespecting Miss Narwin and the school administration.

One reason Philip is to blame for the outcome is breaking a known rule regarding the national anthem. In a memo about the format for the morning announcements, (Avi 7) it clearly states that students are to stand at “respectful, silent attention for the playing of the national anthem.” They also, during the actual morning announcements, they restate this. As the morning announcements are every day, as well as teachers restating the rule, and the student handbook, Philip, therefore, should have known the rule. Instead, he decides not to follow the rule, by humming and getting a response from Miss Narwin. Quite possibly, he knew the rule but instead decided not to follow it. He wanted to irritate Miss Narwin because he could not pass the class, and therefore could not do track. While one can certainly understand his frustrations, having just barely failed, it gives him no right to take his anger out on his teacher. In a letter to her sister, Miss Narwin reveals that she really does like Philip, but is just “he shows no desire to strive, to make sacrifices for the betterment of self, the way we were taught. And, oh, my, Anita, so restless! Worst of all, like so many of them, he exhibits no desire to learn. No ambition at all!” (Avi 9) Miss Narwin wants him to succeed, but Philip does not do his part.

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Another reason that Philip is the most to blame for the outcome of the story is because he tells a one-sided story to his parents, and also when his father calls the reporter about it. Philip never spoke up that he might have been the problem and not the teacher. “But this teacher, she got real mad and started to yell at me to stop.” (Avi 30) According to the text from the actual incident, Miss Narwin kept it quite civil with “Is that someone humming?” to “Please stop it,” and finally, “Now! Thank you.” These do not seem like things to be yelled at in a classroom, and while she may have raised her voice slightly in the end, she certainly was not yelling. Philip told another one-sided story when his father took action and called Ted Griffen, their neighbor who was running for school board. Ted Griffen got them in contact with a reporter, who discussed the matter with Philip. Mr. Malloy doesn’t help, making statements such as “She’s always on the boy’s back. Bad teacher. The kids don’t like her.” (Avi 51) This is, untrue, as many students have stated before in the text that they do like her. But Philip says things like “Well, I like to, you know, sing along. But, see, she kicked me out. For singing it.” (Avi 51)

The last reason why Philip is most to blame for the outcome connects back to the last point. He blamed Miss Narwin for overreacting to him humming, when in reality, it happened several times, and Philip was also being disrespectful. When in reality, he was also talking back and being disrespectful. He said things like “I have the right to do it,” “It’s you who’s being disrespectful,” and “You have no right to stop me.”

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