Across Five Aprils

by Irene Hunt

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What do Jethro's encounters with Guy Wortman in Across Five Aprils reveal about his character and loyalties?

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In chapter 5, Jethro is trusted to embark on a fairly long journey to town by himself in order to get needed supplies for his family. When he arrives at the store, other men are already there, and one asks Jethro for his name. When Jethro reveals that he is a Creighton, some of the men exchange suspicious glances. One asks whether Jethro's father is with him in town, and Jethro reveals that he has come by himself.

The conversation quickly turns to Bill, who is Jethro's older brother. After struggling with the decision over which side to fight for in the Civil War, Bill had chosen to side with the Confederate Army. The men ask Jethro what he thinks about this, and Jethro defends his brother:

My pa don't teach me one way or the other. He knows that I think more of my brother than anybody else in the world—no matter where he is.

This response angers Guy Wortman, who calls Bill a "Reb lover" and asks how a "solid citizen" such as Matt Creighton could have an "ornery traitor" of a son. He vaguely threatens Jethro as he leaves the store and then presumably attacks him on the way home.

Like his older brother, Jethro realizes that war is complicated and that there is often no clear "right" side to choose. He thus supports his brother's choice, knowing that Bill made the best choice he could based on the complex and difficult options he was given. Jethro's response to Guy Wortman thus demonstrates his fierce loyalty to family regardless of societal pressure or any attempts to shame his brother's decision.

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