The book Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt, is a great fiction novel that gives the reader a good perspective of the average family during the Civil War. This book shows the hardships and tough times that the war cast upon everyone in the U. S. The author tries to get the reader to be sucked in by the constant goings on in the lives of the many characters. This story takes place in southern Illinois in the 1860s during the Civil War. The main character, Jethro Creighton, is a nine-year-old boy that lives on his family’s farm during the war.
His brother Tom and his cousin Eb leave early on and join the fight against the Confederates. Soon after, Jethro’s brother Bill runs away to join the Confederate army. This causes much controversy throughout the book and later causes the hate crime of burning down the family’s barn. Soon after Bill leaves, Jethro’s oldest brother, John, and the local teacher, Shadrach Yale leave to fight for the Union, as well. This leaves Jethro, his older sister, Jenny, and their parent s to manage the farm alone. Not long after the last of the older men leave, Jethro’s father, Matt, has a heart attack and is bed ridden.
Jethro now has to become the man of the house. With the help of his sister, Jethro farms the fields and provides for his family and his brother John’s wife and two children. After receiving a few letters from Tom, the family is notified of his death. Eb comes back after a while because he abandoned his post and was being hunted by the government for desertion. Jethro then writes to the president regarding his cousin’s dilemma. He then received a letter back form Abe Lincoln himself telling him what his cousin can do to return to his position.
Soon after that incident, the family finds out that Shadrach was wounded and is located in New York. Jenny is sent out to visit him with Mr. Milton, a family friend from Newton, and gets married to Shadrach and stays with him in New York. Jethro was all alone in doing the farm work. Then the war ended in the fifth April and soon after, President Lincoln was shot. Not too long after, Shadrach and Jenny returned to visit and to take Jethro back to live with them so that he could study at a university. This book tells a lot about the time period.
First, there is an obvious respect for elders. Jethro never questions the authority of his father and he always does what he asks. Although Mr. Creighton seems to become more lenient after being disabled, he still had unquestionable rule over the household. They also had little technology during this time. First, they still used horses to get around, which shows that they were still awaiting the creation of the internal combustion engine. They also mentioned cannons in the book, which is now a very outdated technology.
It is also very obvious that they are out in the farming country. Jethro took an entire day to go to Newton and back, which shows the area was not very densely populated. This book did not have many morals, but it did show how people could be prejudice, not only towards a different race, but also against someone with different views. Just because Bill ran off to fight for the Confederates, the entire family was labeled as being against the Union, as well. This book was very well written and it got the point across well.