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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES / ANALYSIS
Granny, Moses, Sarah, Adam, and Levi Cooper sit down for the supper prepared by Sarah. An empty chair is always left as a sign of hospitality, Moses claims, though Adam suspects it's for the sake of his father having an audience during mealtimes. As Moses says grace before the meal, he berates God for not bringing enough rain to the crops. Granny is upset by this but says nothing. As they eat, Adam thinks about going out to sea with his maternal uncle Captain Ishmael Jamison, though he knows such a choice would anger his father. Moses then lays a trap for his son: he asks if Adam is a man, pointing out he is already a man's size physically. Adam agrees, only to be scolded severely for reciting that spell earlier by the well. Moses goes on at length about how such superstitions are a display of ignorance and an affront to his modern way of thinking. Granny cuts this short, rebuking her son for being ill-tempered and proud.
Before it goes any further, their neighbor and cousin, Joseph Simmons, arrives to sit in the waiting empty chair and join in their meal. Cousin Simmons has been tasked with the committee to write a statement on the rights of man, and he proceeds to read a draft to Moses when he's stopped short by Moses' expression. Moses disagrees with the opening statement that the rights of man are derived from God and His will: he believes such a religious approach does not suit the needs of the statement, that it only muddies the issues unnecessarily.
Adam expresses a desire to attend the committee meeting that evening,
but Moses questions if he is truly a man yet, and thus deserving of this
privilege. Moses and Cousin Simmons leave for the meeting, and Adam asks
his mother and Granny why his father hates him so much. Sarah tries to
assure Adam that it's just the way Moses is, while Granny Cooper adds
that it's Moses' nature to find fault with anyone and anything. Adam leaves
the house and sees Levi outside; Levi asks if he's going to get beaten,
but Adam simply heaps more threats on him.
Given the structure of the book and its main action, this first chapter feels
more like a prologue than the actual onset of the novel proper. However,
it's important because it establishes a strong sense of colonial life
as well as focuses squarely on the conflict between Adam and his father
Moses. By making Adam's maturity an issue of familial tensions in this
chapter and not simply a precursor to some historical event, the novel
does a better job of making the Revolutionary War era more accessible
to readers, showing that everyday concerns were the same then as they
are now. This contributes a great deal to making the history feel truly
lived, as well as to better depict the way war can tear through the normal
rhythms of everyday life.
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Mescallado, Ray. "TheBestNotes on April Morning".
. 09 May 2017