In My Brother Sam is Dead, by authors Christopher Collier and James L. Collier, what does Tim think about the war?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the beginning of My Brother Sam is Dead, by authors Christopher Collier and James L. Collier, young protagonist Tim expresses feelings of confusion about the Revolutionary War, and his confusion stems from the fact that his family is divided, just like the colonies are divided: his father is a loyalist, also called a Tory, whereas his 16-year-old brother Sam is a Rebel, meaning a Revolutionary. We see Tim's first thoughts of confusion in the very first chapter.

While sitting at dinner with his father, their minister Mr. Beach, and the newly arrived Sam, the young and naive Tim listens to both sides of the argument. As a loyalist, his father argues that, as subjects of the king, they have a God-given command to remain loyal to the king. He is even willing to argue that the king, simply because he is king, and Parliament know what's best for their people and that their judgements shouldn't be questioned. Though Sam is in favor of the war, it's also very evident that since Sam is also still very young, he doesn't seem to understand thoroughly all the reasons for the war he is supporting. All he can say is that "it's worth dying to be free" and that the king should not be growing rich off of the colonist's taxes nor make laws for the colonies when neither the king nor Parliament are there in the colonies to see what's going on.

Silently, Tim agrees that the colonies should be free and "not have to take orders from people who were so far away"; however, he also senses that Sam does not fully understand all of the reasons behind the war and therefore Tim cannot support the fighting. In addition, since Tim is so young, he can't shake seeing their father as a leader and an authority figure. He can't help but assume that their father "knew more than Sam"; therefore, he also can't help but silently agree with their father's perspective as well.

In the second chapter, Tim goes into even more details about just how confusing he finds the subject of the war to be, especially since he counted at least six different sides to the argument. Some believed in being loyal to the king; some believed in being completely free to rule on their own; and others wanted to remain a part of England but still have the ability to govern more freely. In short, Tim witnessed so many arguments being disputed daily that he felt far too confused to form his own opinion about the war.