Why do Tim's parents fight over Sam's letters in My Brother Sam Is Dead.

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mrsenglish eNotes educator| Certified Educator

   Tim's parents fight over Sam's letters mainly because Mrs. Meeker wants to respond to Sam, and Mr. Meeker does not.  Mr. Meeker does not condone Sam's involvement in the war.  As you can see from the conflict between Sam and his father in the first chapter, Mr. Meeker has several reasons for disagreeing with Sam being a Patriot soldier.  Life Meeker believes that men should be loyal to their father and to their king.  He thinks that this war is uncalled for and that taxes are a petty thing to risk your life for. 

     Life Meeker also fears for Sam's life in general.  Sam and Tim's father fought in the French and Indian War.  He has seen the horrors of war and he does not want his son to go through that.  For these reasons, when Sam writes home, Mr. Meeker says that they should not respond.  He does not want to encourage Sam's "recalcitrance" or disobedience.  Mrs. Meeker argues that her husband is being hypocritical because he also left home at an early age.  She thinks that Sam is old enough to make his own decisions.  This is a significant moment because it is the first time in the novel that Mrs. Meeker really speaks up and voices her own opinions.  She says that she will respond to Sam even though her husband does not want her to do so.