Across Five Aprils

by Irene Hunt

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How are Matt, Wilse, John, and Bill's views portrayed during the dinner conversation in Chapter 2 of Across Five Aprils?

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In the heated conversation amongst the men in Chapter 2, Wilse Graham is the most passionately devoted to the Confederate cause.  He says the root cause of the conflict is that "half of the country has growed rich...but still jealous and fearful that the other half is apt to find good fortune too...the North has become arrogant toward the South...the high-tariff industrialists would sooner heve the South starve than give an inch that might cost them a penny".  Although he is not completely comfortable with the idea of slavery, he owns a few slaves himself.  He justifies his actions by pointing out the slavery has been around "from the beginnin' of history", and rightly asks what the North plans to do with all the slaves if they were suddenly set free. 

Like his cousin Wilse, Bill Creighton sympathizes with the South, but not as passionately.  He is wrestling with doubt, but he believes that "it's greed, not slavery, that's stirrin' up this trouble", and he agrees with Wilse that, being from the South, he would not want men like John Brown, William Lloyd Garrison, and Charles Sumner telling him how he must live.

Of the four men, John Creighton is the most ardent in support of the Northern position.  He is unequivocably against the institution of slavery, the idea of "one man ownin' the body - and sometimes...the soul... - of another man", and he argues that though poverty exists and conditions might be tough for white men living in the North, or even the South for that matter, "there ain't a white man, lean-bellied and hopeless as so many of them are, that would change lots with a slave belongin' to the kindest master in the South".

Matt Creighton, acknowledging the family's roots in Kentucky, sympathizes with the Southern position, but is most adamant that the Union not be sundered.  He says, "this won't do...we're a union; separate, we're jest two weakened, puny pieces, each needin' the other".  It appears that if he had to choose, he would support the Northern factions, in the interest of preserving the Union (Chapter 2)

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