My Brother Sam Is Dead

by Christopher Collier, James L. Collier

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Discussion Topic

Tim and his father travel to Verplancks Point and their trip is interrupted in My Brother Sam Is Dead

Summary:

In My Brother Sam Is Dead, Tim and his father's trip to Verplancks Point is interrupted by cow-boys, who are bandits masquerading as patriots. They demand the goods Tim and his father are transporting, creating a tense and dangerous situation. This event underscores the lawlessness and unpredictability of the wartime environment.

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Why is Tim and his dad's trip to Verplancks Point interrupted in My Brother Sam Is Dead?

     The trip to Verplancks Point is a huge milestone for Tim.  He has been looking forward to it because he is finally taking on the role of his older brother, Sam, whom he admires.  However, the trip quickly becomes dangerous.  He and his father are stopped by cowboys.  The cowboys are angry because they believe that Mr. Meeker is selling Cattle to Loyalists.  These cowboys claim to be Patriots, however, some believe that this claim is just a guise that masks their one true goal: thievery.  Mr. Meeker argues that he does not care where it goes.  He is just trying to support his family.  This is one of several examples of Mr. Meeker's stubborn bravery, which resembles his son Sam's attitude.

     The cowboys violently knock Mr. Meeker to the ground.  Tim prepares to run for help.  This is a crucial moment in which he tries to decide what the "right" thing to do would be.  He struggles between the idea of running to Father's rescue, as he believes Sam would do, and which he believes would be courageous, and the idea of running for help, which he believes is the logical idea that his father would support.  Before Tim runs for help, help comes to them.  A group of Loyalist men who act as an escort scare the cowboys away and safely guide Mr. Meeker and Tim to Tim's cousins' home.

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Why are Tim and his father traveling to Verplancks Point in My Brother Sam Is Dead?

Verplancks Point is on the Hudson River.  Boats from New York and Albany would travel up the Hudson to do some trading.  Tim's father would start gathering cattle in October.  Some of the farmers paid him in cattle, and some cattle he bought because he knew that he would be able to sell them at a profit.  He would travel to Verplancks Point to sell his cattle and use the money he made to buy supplies for the store and the tavern.  The traders brought things like pots and pans, needles and thread, and other goods that his customers needed.  The traders would sell these and take the cattle back to New York where there was a need for beef.

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