My Brother Sam is Dead

Main Ideas

Facts

Main Ideas Facts

full title  My Brother Sam is Dead

authors  James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

type of work  Young adult novel

genre  Wartime fiction, coming-of-age novel

language  English

time and place written  Early 1970s, United States

date of first publication  1974

publisher  Scholastic, Inc.

narrator  Tim Meeker

point of view  The narrator speaks in the first person, noting his observations of the war and his brother's involvement

tone  Matter-of-fact; conversational; sometimes childish

tense  Past

setting (time)  1775–1779; epilogue, 1826

setting (place)  Redding, Connecticut and nearby areas

protagonist  Tim Meeker is the narrator and the person whose actions and growth we follow most closely throughout the novel, although his observations and concerns are very often centered on his older brother, Sam

major conflict  Tim struggles to understand the war and define his own set of opinions based on the opinions of his father and brother

rising action  Sam joins the Rebel forces; Tim is left alone to drive the cart home from Verplancks; the British attack Redding; Tim realizes that Sam is fighting for the wrong reasons

climax  Tim realizes the certainty of Sam's execution and runs out with his late father's bayonet, hoping somehow to stop it. The climax is actually a moment of quiet and defeat in Tim's life, for he realizes that he cannot kill other men, and that his efforts to save his brother are futile

falling action  Tim resigns himself to attend his brother's public death with the understanding that he cannot save Sam

themes  The illusion of glory; the degeneration of values during war; the clashing influence of father and brother

motifs  Foretelling death; weather

symbols  Telling points; Betsy Read

foreshadowing  Foreshadowing occurs three times when characters make warnings about situations that eventually play a part in that characters' own death. Sam claims that a person should die for his cause; Sam warns Tim of cattle thieves and notes that General Putnam may hang the next person he catches; Father warns Tim about prison ships and the circulation of cholera