My Brother Sam Is Dead

by Christopher Collier, James L. Collier

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What is the conflict in My Brother Sam Is Dead?

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The book My Brother Sam Is Dead takes place during the Revolutionary War.  Since it is a historical fiction young adult novel, it is based on real places and historical themes, although the characters themselves are made up.  It is complicated in that Sam and his father each take a different side during the war.  Without giving away the ending, Sam's brother learns about the hard times of war and grows up learning about his father and brother's differences and similarities.  I think it is similar to the movie The Patriot in many ways.  If you have seen the movie, you will understand what I am saying when you see the struggle between Mel Gibson's character and his son, the war hero.

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Who or what is the conflict between in My Brother Sam is Dead?

My Brother Sam is Dead was written by Christopher Collier and James L. Collier. It is a fictional story about the Revolutionary War's disruptive impacts on a small Connecticut community. The story reveals a unique perspective about the damaging social effects of the differing alliances during the War. It challenges the readers to open their minds to the reality that many colonists were loyal supporters of England, since many people have been educated to think that all of the colonists were liberating patriots. The mother country of England exercised great influence on the hearts of thousands of settlers.

These political divisions within the fledgling nation created tension among family members whose alliances differed. In the story, the Meeker family exemplifies the dissension and struggle within the colonial village. The father, Life Meeker, remains loyal to England and the king, as a Loyalist. Mr. Meeker's older son, Sam, joins the fight to liberate the nation from the mother country as a patriot. Tim, the younger son who tries to remain loyal to both, finds himself in the middle of the conflict between Sam and the father. Families are subject to damaging social effects, as loyalties are divided and exposed.

The book portrays characters who belong to three major political groups: the Whigs, the Imperialists, and the Progressives. The story definitely conveys an alternative perspective about the political beliefs compared to many other textbook accounts of the patriots all fighting together for independence without any opposing colonial forces. The conflict between the father and son showcases a political conflict within a family. But couples were separated by their views as well. These social impacts tore apart the fabric of early society in the fledgling nation. The conflicts extended beyond the family and spilled over to property disputes and military skirmishes.

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