Across Five Aprils

by Irene Hunt

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How was support for the war fanned across the small towns of Illinois?

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At the beginning of Chapter 3, the people who lived in the small towns of Illinois are said to be "bound to the tedium of isolation." They are hungry for contact with the outside world and the opportunity to interact with their neighbors. When speakers promoting war arrived in town, their message was greeted with excitement and enthusiasm by a people anxious to be a part of something larger than the confines of their small farms and humdrum lives. They provided a reason for gathering, and the people responded with 4th of July-like celebrations, complete with picnic baskets and brass bands.

This method of having speakers travel from town to town to drum up support for the war was especially effective because mass communication back in the mid-1860's was still in its beginning stages. There was no such thing as television to bring the horrible reality of warfare directly into people's homes. Like Jethro at the beginning of the story, the men in particular had a completely unreal concept of battle, speaking of their planned exploits in it with bravado and focusing only on its excitement and glory.

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