Byron says that his brother has "seen a lot of damage."
Randolph and Byron Aldridge, the brothers at the center of Tim Gautreaux's 2003 historical novel, The Clearing, go through a lot in the course of the novel and emerge as changed men. Byron changes more than his brother. Randolph has already experienced a lot before the novel begins. Expected to take over his father's business, he served in World War I and is haunted and traumatized by his experiences. He drifts around before settling in rural Louisiana and working as a law officer. He does marry, which gives him some stability. Unfortunately, the marriage doesn't seem to lessen his drinking, his propensity for violence, or the darkness that surrounds him.
Both men are outsiders in the small community around the timber mill because they are from Pennsylvania and so are "Yankees." However, they win the respect of their workers. Randolph has already seen violence. It is new to Byron, because he is the more practical and sheltered of the two brothers. The brothers clash with the local mafia, which escalates into violence and death. I think this helps Byron both understand his brother a little more, as well as makes him more jaded and world-weary, especially after his black housekeeper, who has a young son, is murdered. I don't know if they are necessarily better people by the end of the book, but I think they are wiser and more mature. They also become closer as brothers.
Further Reading: imagejournal.org/article/conversation-tim-gautreaux/