Of all his brothers, Jethro has never been close to John. He does not dislike his older brother, but he has not enjoyed the rapport with him that he shares with Bill either. The same reserve extends to John's wife, Nancy. Nancy is very shy, and Jethro, being still a child, perhaps tends to interpret that as unfriendliness. Because he is uneasy around John and Nancy, Jethro does not go around to their house very often, and never makes an effort to get to know their children (Chapter 1).
After the war begins and John goes away to fight, Nancy and the children are left all alone in their cabin. She is lonely, and hungry for news about John and about the war. One day, Jethro is sent to borrow some coffee from Nancy to ease his mother's headache, and when he arrives, Nancy is gracious to him and asks him immediately if the family has received a letter from her husband; she is more talkative with him than she has ever been before. In her loneliness, Nancy appears to have been able to overcome some of her intense shyness, and she tells Jethro, "come down with Jenny and play with (the children) a little sometimes...(as) they're lonesome with no pa to romp with 'em, we're all lonesome hereabouts" (Chapter 5).
Jethro becomes closer to Nancy and the children as time goes on. Jethro is growing up, and Nancy, "in her quiet way", takes more initiative to talk to him and treat him as one of the family, a brother. As the children begin to look up to him, Nancy observes, "They take you fer a man full growed...I wouldn't doubt but what they sense somethin' of John about you" (Chapter 6).