Free Study Guide for Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt-Book Summary
Previous Page | Table
of Contents | Next Page
Downloadable / Printable Version
takes place on the Creighton farm in Jasper County, a rural area in southern Illinois.
It is not far from Sangamon County, where Abraham Lincoln lived. The nearest town
is Newton and some scenes are set there, as it is the heart of the community where
the Creighton family shops and gets their mail and news. The story opens in mid-April
1861, and spans the Civil War years across five Aprils to
April 1865 when the war ended and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Historically,
most people in southern Illinois supported the Union cause, but there were some
who secretly favored the South. Though they did not support slavery, the people
were geographically and emotionally “southern folks.”
Jethro, the protagonist, is nine years old at the beginning of the
story and the youngest of the Creighton family. He is forced into the responsibilities
of the man of the house when his brothers go off to war and his father becomes
ill. He deals with the social and emotional effects of war while maturing into
a strong, understanding man.
is fourteen years old, the only Creighton daughter still at home. She and Jethro
comfort each other as they struggle together to keep up the farm and weather the
emotional uncertainties of the war. She is in love with Shadrach Yale, the schoolmaster,
but is forbidden to marry him because of her youth.
Shad came to Jasper County to teach at the local school. He is both
Jethro’s teacher and friend, encouraging Jethro’s book learning as well as his
understanding of the war. Shadrach is twenty years old and is treated like family
by the Creightons. He loves Jethro and is in love with Jenny, but leaves them
both as he goes off to war. He gets badly injured, but recovers and marries Jenny.
Ross is the editor of the local Newton
newspaper. He meets and befriends Jethro when Jethro travels alone to Newton for
the first time. He defends Jethro in town and mentors his education in proper
grammar and speaking. Over time he becomes a comforting friend to the Creightons
and even accompanies Jenny when she travels to Washington to see the injured Shadrach
Ellen, Jethro’s mother, once pretty, is now the somber mother of
twelve children. Her oldest child went off to California to find gold, two daughters
have married and moved to Ohio, three sons died from disease as children, and
one daughter was killed when the drunken Travis Burdow overturned her wagon. Her
remaining sons go to war leaving only Jethro, who Ellen nurtures as the youngest,
and Jenny at home. Despite the hardships she has endured, her family is the most
important part of her life.
Jethro’s father, is highly respected by the community. He is an upstanding, forgiving
man and a good father. When he has a heart attack, leaving Jethro to be the man
of the house, neighbors and other community members come to help.
Bill is the second oldest
remaining son and Jethro’s favorite brother. Though strong, he is gentle and introspective.
He struggles with his decision about joining the war because he sees the wrongs
on both sides. In an attempt to do what he feels is right, he joins the Confederate
Tom is Jethro’s eighteen-year-old
brother. He is anxious to go to war thinking that the Union will make quick work
of the South. He is shot and killed at Pittsburgh Landing.
Eb is Matt Creighton’s nephew who was orphaned as a child and taken
in by the Creighton family. Like Tom, he is eager to go to war. However he ends
up deserting because the war is so gruesome. Jethro secretly helps Eb until Eb
is able to return to his regiment when Lincoln declares amnesty for deserters
John is the oldest Creighton
boy at home. He lives in a cabin near the Creighton home with his wife, Nancy,
and his sons. He and Bill are very close, but cannot agree on which side is right,
thereby ending up as brothers fighting for opposing sides.
Nancy is John’s wife. She is reserved, but grows closer
to the family after John goes to war. Jethro helps out on her property and spends
time with her little boys.
Ed Turner is a
neighbor and good friend to the Creightons. He shares family news with them and
helps the family whenever they need it.
The Burdow family is not well liked in Jasper County. Dave is the father of Travis
Burdow, the drunken boy who made the wagon overturn causing Mary Creighton’s death.
Matt Creighton seeks no revenge for his daughter’s death and prevents the angry
townspeople from doing so as well. Dave repays Matt’s mercy by saving Jethro from
having his wagon overturned on the way home from Newton. Later, he again helps
the Creightons by sending lumber to rebuild the Creighton barn after it had been
| Table of Contents | Next Page
Downloadable / Printable Version
Across Five Aprils Study Guide-Free BookNotes Plot Summary