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Free Study Guide for Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt-Book Summary

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Jethro and Jenny are worried about Shadrach Yale after hearing news of the Union defeat at Chancellorsville and the loss of seventeen thousand Union soldiers. Weeks later they receive a letter from Shad. He explains that he has seen enough death to cause him to lose the hope of survival. The family also receives a letter from John, which mainly inquires about the family. A third letter, this one from Eb in Mississippi, is about his activities and challenges with the soldiers near Vicksburg.

The newspapers carry stories about preparations near Vicksburg and editorials against General Grant. There is fearful speculation about the northward advance of Robert E. Lee. This is followed by news of the violent battle at Gettysburg, a Union victory. Then, another Union victory, at Vicksburg, led by Grant, causes public opinion to sway in Grant’s favor.

The Creightons learn that Shad was severely wounded in the battle at Gettysburg and that in his delirium he calls for Jenny. Ross Milton offers to accompany Jenny to Washington to see Shad. All is arranged and they leave the next morning. After some time a letter comes from Ross Milton explaining that Shad is still critically ill, but is holding on because of Jenny’s presence. Months later, with Matt Creightons permission, Jenny and a bedridden Shad are married. In a heartfelt letter Jenny, now Mrs. Shadrach Yale, describes her life in Washington and asks Jethro to enter her wedding day in the ledger in the family Bible. Overjoyed that Shad is going to live, Jethro writes a simple but praiseworthy letter to Jenny, which she keeps forever.


The chapter opens telling how Joseph Hooker “folded hopelessly” before Robert E. Lee at Chancellorsville. The war has escalated and dragged on to the point that the author can no longer give historic accounts of every battle for they have become too numerous. Until this point it seemed that the South had the advantage, however Gettysburg and Vicksburg turn the tide. Amid cynical public opinion, Grant emerges the symbol of a victorious Union.

Hunt elaborates on the theme of how perceptions of the war can vary by having each of the three soldiers present a different feeling in his letter, and then yet another opinion, that of the newspaper is given. Shad’s letter shows no hope for future battles or survival. John’s letters focus on being ready for action and the bonds of family. Eb’s letter describes his actual activities and experiences with the other soldiers. Finally, the newspaper sways public favor to Grant once more.

The symbolic recording of Jenny’s marriage in the Bible ledger illustrates that the young have grown beyond their years during the war, yet there is still hope for happiness. Hunt closes the chapter with a letter written by Jethro that represents the full scope of his growth: his physical manhood working the fields alone, his intellectual development and grasp of language, and his emotional understanding of Jenny’s relationship with Shad.

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Across Five Aprils Study Guide-Free BookNotes Plot Summary

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Cassie, Donna L.. "TheBestNotes on Across Five Aprils". . 09 May 2017