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My Brother Sam Is Dead

My Brother Sam Is Dead


by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Betsy Read

Character Analysis

If you want to befriend a feisty colonial gal, look no further than Betsy Read. She's as feisty as they come. This girl can throw a good punch. Remember when she gets into a fist fight with Tim? Yeah, she kind of kicks his butt.

On top of that, Betsy's got some fierce political views. Everyone in Betsy's family is a Patriot (remember, this means they're on Team American Colonies). And Betsy agrees with her fam: it's all about setting the colonies free, even if that means war. Well it's a good thing Betsy's got her fighting face on, because the Revolutionary War is up and running.

There's just one little hitch: since Betsy is a girl, she's not allowed to join the army. See, back in the day, the military had a strict no-girls-allowed policy. But just because they won't let her in, doesn't mean Betsy isn't willing to fight. Check out this convo she has with Sam and Tim:

"Nobody wants to get killed," Sam said. "But you should be willing to die for your principles."

"That's right," Betsy said.

"But Betsy, you don't have to take a chance on getting killed," I said.

"I'd fight if I could," she said. (2.54-57)

Can't you tell how much Betsy wishes she could fight? She doesn't have any qualms about the war. She just wishes they'd let her join in on the action.

But by the end of the book, even Betsy has changed her tune about the war. Take a look at how her attitude has shifted after a few years of fighting: "I don't care who wins anymore. I just want it to be over" (12.17). This is a pretty huge change from the girl who wanted to join the army herself.

What do you think about Betsy's new attitude towards the war? And what do you think makes her change her mind?