Tim, the narrator, stands just on the brink of adolescence. During the course of the story, he watches the older and more experienced people around him and wonders which their ideals he should take as his own. Tim is frightened of his father, who is a powerful, all-knowing force in the Meeker household. This fear is balanced and at times outweighed by Tim's adoration of his older brother Sam, who is everything Tim wants to grow up to be. Throughout the novel, Tim considers the opposing influences of his brother and father and chisels out a sensibility of his own. Tim is a clever, hard-working, and introspective boy, and he often takes quiet, intelligent paths through trying situations, as opposed to his father and brother, who share a boldness and impetuousness. Both Mr. Meeker and Sam suffer grave consequences as a result of their boldness. Up until the end of his brother's life, Tim is determined to prove himself to Sam in everything he does, whether with his cleverness in the face of the cow-boys or his mature ability to run the tavern. Tim's desire to impress his brother and also forge himself in contrast to his role models pervades the novel. Tim's struggle to grow up during the war parallels the new nation's struggle to break free from the forces ruling it, while at the same time preserve some of its mother country's more cherished and indispensable influences.