55 pages • 1 hour readIrene Hunt
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Jethro is the young protagonist of Across Five Aprils. At the beginning of the story when the Civil War starts, Jethro is only nine years old; by the time the war ends at the conclusion of the story, he is 13. Over these four years, Jethro must take on many new responsibilities and learn to cope with the realities of war.
Jethro is the youngest of his numerous siblings and is favored by his mother because he survived in a year when three of his siblings died of polio. Because of this, he is treated gently by his family members at the beginning of the story. Before the war begins, Jethro has a limited understanding of the realities of war and death. He listens to his brother Tom and cousin Eb talk excitedly about the glamor of war and doesn’t understand his father’s reluctance to take revenge on Travis Burdow after Mary’s death, nor President Lincoln’s reluctance to declare war on the South. As he listens more to the adults’ conversations, however, he begins to understand that war might be “far beyond the excitement of guns and shouting men” (32), but he can’t quite grasp its full significance of it yet.
By Irene Hunt