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Free Study Guide: April Morning by Howard Fast

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ONLINE PLOT NOTES: APRIL MORNING BY HOWARD FAST

The Night

Summary

Adam does not believe in the significance of dreams, despite a general belief in his community. He admits that this skepticism comes from his father, tying this to Moses' declaration of himself as a "Christian-Judaic materialist" - a statement that once prompted him to attend a synagogue in Rhode Island, where he came to admire the Jews' argumentative skills, as they in turn admired his. The "materialism" in his chosen appellation was to counter superstition, Moses claimed, especially regarding dreams. Adam details a dispute between his father and Jonas Parker, the elected Captain of the Militia for the township, about the hierarchy of authority in the township: Moses disliked the military and felt the Committee was superior to the militia, while Parker argued that the commander of the militia must be in charge of a military crisis. Parker decided one day to hold a militia drill the following evening, despite the strong signs of impending rain - his defense is that he had a particular strong dream that augured good weather. When it did indeed rain, Moses took advantage of this to repeatedly point out the lack of credibility in dreams.

This evening, Adam is awakened by Levi, who had a dream that the whole sky was red. Adam tries to dismiss this as a silly nightmare, attributing the imagery to all the time Levi and his friends were playing war. He then takes Levi to the window to see if the sky is indeed red: the town was settled in for the evening, as it was an hour past midnight. However, Levi hears hoofbeats racing in the night, as does Adam soon after, which is unusual for the danger it poses the rider. Moses walks in on the boys, and Levi tells him of what they hear. Sarah and Granny also wake, and Moses tells them the rider must be an express from Cambridge with Committee business. Moses prepares to meet the rider, and Adam also decides to get dressed to see what is happening in the common. Levi makes the same decision but decides to sneak out, asking Adam not to tell on him - which Adam finds amusing, considering what happened regarding the well. After Moses leaves for the common, Adam goes downstairs and tells his mother he's also headed there. Sarah protests, but Granny supports her grandson's decision.


At the common, the village was awake and lively, with the express rider speaking to Moses Cooper, Jonas Parker, and the Reverend. The news is that the British army had marched out of Boston and were headed this way, from Charlestown to Cambridge to Menotomy, and will finally arrive at Concord to confiscate the store of military supplies the colonists are keeping there. When pressed for a count of British troops, the rider could not say, though it was at least a thousand and likely much more. He then rode off towards Concord to continue spreading the word.

The common has become an area of lively debating, as people tried to decide what to do. Jonas Parker calls for an immediate muster of the militia; Moses Cooper argues for an immediate Committee meeting in the Church; the Reverend argues for a verification of facts before any action takes place; last, Sam Hodley argues that this was all a wild tale, as everyone knew the British wouldn't march at night. The Reverend adds that the numbers were against them, as at best there were seventy-nine Committee men who could join the muster roll. Moses would have backed the logic in this, but does not like the whiff of cowardice in such a statement. As a result, he argues that the odds the Committee and militia faced against British troops should not mean a flexibility in principle, that the colonists have right and justice on their side and should be steadfast by it. The Reverend gives in to this as the crowd cheered in agreement; the mustering is held in Buckman's Tavern, as Jonas Parker first suggested. As people crowd in to the establishment, Adam sees Levi and grabs him, telling his younger brother to go home lest their mother worry. When Levi asks him what he's going to do, Adam replies that he's going to sign the muster book.

Cousin Simmons sees Adam and asks him to take his daughter Ruth home after signing the muster book. Adam says that he's not sure if his father will allow him to sign the book, but Cousin Simmons assures him that won't be a problem. When it's time for Adam to approach the table to sign the book, he finds Jonas Parker, Sam Hodley, and his father seated there. Moses is surprised to see his son, the two look at each other, and Moses silently assents to Jonas Parker for Adam to sign.

Adam goes home and finds Ruth Simmons waiting for him at the bench by his house's back gate. He tells her the promise he made her father about seeing her home; she asks him to sit and he reluctantly agrees. Ruth tells Adam she's frightened and he tries to assure her as best she can, arguing why on earth would the British want to start a war. They kiss and he walks her back to her home. Returning home again, Adam stops at his kitchen door as he overhears his parents arguing about Moses letting him sign the muster book. Sarah protests that he's still a boy, while Moses insists that tonight he has become a man. Further, he added that the British do not want bloodshed, that the officer class are civilized and principled enough to avoid such a thing. As for their child, Moses tells Sarah he saw a look in Adam's eyes that made clear if Moses had blocked his signing the muster, he would have lost his son.

Silently, Adam retraces his steps and makes sure to be heard on this arrival home. Granny tries to feed him some cornmeal mush while Moses asks where he'd been. Adam is unable to eat and explains to his father his promise to Ruth Simmons. Moses then asks Adam what his intentions are for Ruth, and Adam is stunned by this, as were his mother and Granny. Instead he chooses to check on his gun, which Levi had cleaned. Moses instructs him on loading the gun with extra pellets, more so than when he goes hunting, and berates him for not counting properly. On the table, two loaves of bread are waiting for Moses and Adam, as were two bottles of water. Moses is pushed out the door by Granny, as she wants to talk to Adam. Adam kisses his mother on the cheek and Granny assures him she'll be alright. Granny asks if he's afraid and he nods yes, which makes her glad. He hugs her and kisses her and begins to cry; Granny wipes his tears and he goes off to meet up with his father outside.

Notes

Adam's decision to sign the muster book for the militia is one of the key turning points in explaining his sudden maturity into adulthood. The language of this scene indicates that he is silently seeking his father's approval; what is startling, then, is Moses' account to his wife that he would have lost Adam if he had resisted. Ironically, the son still seeks the father's approval while the father already senses a new independence and strength in the son. However, the confrontation Moses later forces on Adam over his intentions for Ruth again illustrate how clumsily the father tries to express his love for his son, in a manner that leaves the whole family ill at ease despite the seeming good intentions of Moses' query.


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