One of the most significant passages in the novel appears Chapter Four, when Tim uses his intimate knowledge of Sam to disarm him. Tim knows exactly how to handle his sleeping brother. Tim and Sam are bound by brotherhood, and it is disquieting to see that bond used by one brother to disarm the other. The authors seem to be pointing out that war forces brothers to turn against each other in desperation. Tim also plays on his brotherly knowledge of Sam to press the exact button—Sam's unwillingness to be thought a coward—that will coerce Sam into returning home to ensure that Father is left alive by the soldiers.

In Chapter Five, cattle thieving becomes common. Tim becomes aware of the illegal and dangerous possibilities surrounding him, but he does not yet apply these scenarios to the people in his own life. Father checks himself, having learned through his painful experience with Sam the consequences of losing his temper with a son. Father controls himself in a rare instance of self-policing, emphasizing his own wisdom and vulnerability, but not curbing Tim's persistent desire to do something that will sound adventurous when he recounts it to Sam. For the first time in the story, Tim has a sense of control over his Father, something that feeds his confidence and desire to prove himself.

Tim's desperation to participate demonstrates the depth to which he makes decisions based on whether they will win Sam's attention and respect. Tim is conscious of his own need to please Sam. He thinks about the nature of younger brothers' admiration for their older brothers. This thinking is uniquely Tim's, because it comes from his own experience, not Sam's or Father's. Although Tim fears and usually obeys Father, he still adores Sam, and this adoration is the reason why Tim ultimately decides to sneak out against his father's will. Mr. Heron, recorded both in history and in this story as a shady figure, offers adventure to Tim. Tim decides he wants to set aside his own skepticism and forge ahead, Sam-like, and try to contribute.