Across Five Aprils

by: Irene Hunt

Chapter 5

Summary Chapter 5

Jethro learns that war makes the familiar unfamiliar. In a town where his family is known and respected, Jethro is suddenly afraid. There is hatred directed toward his family because of Bill—people who otherwise would have only remained polite acquaintances or friends are full of anger and blame. The route home from town becomes dangerous. The face of the world changes, no matter how remote the location, and Jethro begins to realize just how thorough the impact is and will continue to be.

Ross Milton is a voice of fairness and reason, and the kind of friend one makes in a time like this is crucial. It is clear that something strong bonds him to Jethro, and in many ways Milton takes over where Shadrach left off, encouraging Jethro to read and to continue pursuing the correct and grammatical way of speaking. Meeting Milton only reinforces the idea that in times of hardship it becomes apparent who one's friends are.

An unlikely figure steps up as Jethro's protector at the end of this chapter, thus destroying some of the stereotypes Hunt just set up. Mr. Burdow saves Jethro from the man angered by Bill's decision. Jethro, open-minded, or perhaps only thinking like a child would, initially feels only fear—not contempt—for Mr. Burdow. Later, there is redemption of sorts as Mr. Burdow distances himself from his son and helps Jethro. The situation here parallels the one in which Jethro's sister died—Travis Burdow frightened Mary's horses, overturning her wagon and killing her. The man from the restaurant tries something similar by lashing and spooking Jethro's horses. Mr. Burdow's actions here are linked both literally and symbolically to the actions of his son, and this time the actions have good results.