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My Brother Sam Is Dead

My Brother Sam Is Dead


by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

My Brother Sam Is Dead Chapter 2 Summary

  • It's time for Tim to give us some more back story about his family and the place where they live.
  • His dad's first name is Eliphalet. (Yep, you read that right.) And he has a super awesome nickname: Life. Hey Life, what's up? Life grew up in Redding, where Tim and his family live now.
  • Tim's mother was born Susannah Platt and she hails from New York. Hey Suz! She still has some family there and Life visits them each year when he's selling cattle.
  • So Life, Susannah, Sam, and Tim all live in a little town called Redding, Connecticut. This town has two parts: one half is called Redding Center, and it has a Presbyterian Church; the other half is called Redding Ridge. This is where Tim's family and a handful of others live. On this side of town, there's an Anglican church ("'Anglican' meant English Church" [2.4]).
  • Since we already know being "English" is a pretty hot topic during Tim's time, the side of town you live on and which church you go to ends up being super important. Most of the people who go to the Anglican Church and live on Tim's side of Redding are Loyalists. They support the English King.
  • To be honest, Tim is pretty confused about the debates surrounding England. He's grown up hearing people fight about whether the colonists should be loyal to their king or become rebels and start a revolution. He knows that there are no easy answers and everyone seems to have a different view on things.
  • So Tim has found a way to deal with all this confusion: stop listening to the debates altogether. But now that his brother Sam is joining up to fight the British, Tim can't avoid thinking about the war.
  • In fact, everyone seems to want to talk about Sam running away to fight. At home, Tim's dad brings it up. And then at church, Tim's friend Jerry Sanford mentions it too. Get this, even Mr. Beach, the preacher, talks about being "loyal Englishmen" and not disobeying your father in his sermon (2.19).
  • All this talk has Tim especially nervous of how God might react to Sam running away. He figures that God can punish people who do wrong, so what if he punishes Sam?
  • After church, Tom Warrups lets Tim in on a little secret: Sam is hiding out at his place. And Tim can come see him that afternoon.
  • Later, at Tom Warrups' hut, Tim gets to see his big bro, Tom, and a woman named Betsy Read, Colonel Read's granddaughter. Betsy has an important question for Tim: "Timmy are you on your father's side or Sam's?" (2.40). 
  • Yikes. That's a horrible decision for poor Tim to make.
  • And Tim says just that. He doesn't want to choose sides because the whole thing is so stinking confusing.
  • Tim asks Betsy what side she and her family are on and she says she's a Patriot, just like her family. She hopes there's a way for the colonies to be free without war. But she also agrees with Sam that gaining freedom for the colonies is worth dying for, if necessary.
  • Tim is in a serious pickle. Should he side with his brother, Sam? Sam can be pretty convincing when he's trying to get you on his team. Or should Tim side with his father? Tim sure does have a hard time disobeying his Pops.
  • Sam makes the situation even tougher for Tim when he asks his little brother to help out the Patriots.
  • Sam wants Tim to listen to the chatter around the tavern (and this will be easy because the tavern is in their home). Sam figures there are lots of Tories in Redding who will talk, and then Tim could give Sam a report on what he hears. Sounds like Sam wants to turn Tim into a spy.
  • To make things even more complicated, Tim sees Brown Bess sitting in Tom's hut. Yep, Sam has stolen his father's gun.
  • So now Tim has a whole bunch of decisions to make about whose side he's on and now he has to keep a secret from his dad about the gun.
  • All this is enough to make anybody cry and that's exactly what poor Timmy does.

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