In My Brother Sam is Dead why did Tim go to see Sam get excecuted?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the young adult novel My Brother Sam is Dead by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier, Tim idolizes Sam. Sam is his outgoing, impetuous. older brother. Tim attends Sam’s execution out of guilt and solidarity for his brother.

Sam, a soldier, returned to the Meeker’s tavern, which Tim and Mrs. Meeker attempted to keep running throughout the Revolutionary War. During his visit, cattle thieves, from his own unit, make off with two of the family’s animals. Unfortunately, Sam is framed for this act. He is tried and sentenced to death by execution. Previously, Sam told Tim to get rid of the animals because they would be a source of problems, but Tim could not predict this outcome.Tim carries guilt with him because his brother was helping him when he was caught. 

Tim does everything in his power to save his brother’s life. He even takes a bayonet and goes to the stockade where his brother is held but he is unable to kill the guard. He comprehends Sam has the killer instinct, which he does not. All of his brother’s wartime accomplishments are for naught as he is made into a scapegoat to keep the rest of the troops in order.

Tim cannot sit through the church service dedicated to those who will be executed knowing he was unable to save his brother. He goes to the execution, where he makes eye contact with his brother, as their final farewell. Tim watches as his brother, his hero, is shot to death for a crime he did not commit. It is his last act of adoration for his brother.

jpf99 | Student

In my brother Sam is dead, why did Tim go see Sam get executed