55 pages • 1 hour readIrene Hunt
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The title of the book, Across Five Aprils, invites the reader to see the month of April as a meaningful motif throughout the story. April is the transition between winter and spring, representing a time of change and renewal. For farmers like the Creightons, it is also the time of planting, when a great deal of work must be done. It represents the seeding of new possibilities for the future, which may eventually grow and thrive, or may be destroyed by unfavorable weather and pests.
Each year of the war is marked by an April, and often significant moments in the story take place during this time of year. Tom’s death occurs in April of 1862, and the following April of 1863 is when Lincoln makes his offer of amnesty to the deserters. Throughout the novel, April is a time of dramatic change, either good or bad, for both the family and the nation as a whole.
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The month of April bookends the narrative, creating a symmetry that highlights the dramatic changes that occur within the characters. It opens in April of 1861 with Jethro and his mother planting potatoes and worrying about whether the war will soon begin, and it ends in April of 1865 with Jethro being reunited with Shad and Jenny after the end of the war and Lincoln’s assassination.
By Irene Hunt