55 pages 1 hour read

Irene Hunt

Across Five Aprils

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1964

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The Personal Impact of War

Across Five Aprils tells the story of the American Civil War through the personal story of the Creighton family. Large-scale victories and losses are always contextualized by how they affect the Creightons. For instance, after Tom’s death, “Jethro hated to think of Shiloh, not only because of Tom, but because it seemed to him to have been an empty victory” (120). From the perspective of military strategy, this battle was a smart tactical victory in the larger war effort. But for those like the Creightons, the “victory” feels hollow because of the personal tragedy that accompanies it.

The question of what war truly means is present in the very first interactions between Jethro and his mother. As an adult who has already lost several children, Ellen has a much clearer understanding of the suffering that will inevitably result from a war. Jethro, at nine years old, only knows about war from Tom and Eb, who are enamored of the idea only because they also do not yet understand its reality. They don’t truly believe that they themselves will feel the personal impacts of the violence.

Tom and Eb are not the only ones who are dismissive of the grim realities of war.