My Brother Sam Is Dead
by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My Brother Sam Is Dead Chapter 5 Summary
- So for a while it was easy to pretend the war wasn't going on.
- But now that there are Continentals gathering up all the guns in Redding and lots of people telling stories about battles, the war is becoming seriously real.
- Plus, the war is making food a bit tougher to come by. This means that sometimes people in Redding have their cows stolen by hungry soldiers. It also means that prices in the tavern are going way up. (We'd like to interrupt this summary for a Shmoop Mini Econ Lesson: when there's not much food around, people will pay more for it. That means the prices can go sky high. Now back to our regularly scheduled revolutionary programming.)
- For Tim, there's one thing about this war that particularly stinks: missing his big bro. He's constantly worried that something is going to happen to Sam.
- But he also admires his big brother for being brave.
- In fact, thinking about his brother has Tim musing on a very important question: "if I went for a soldier, which army would I join?" (5.8) Sheesh, that's not just a big question, that's the big question.
- Tim doesn't know which side he'd choose. Would he rather have "the best uniforms" like the British? Or would he like to be with the "underdogs" and fight with the Patriots? (5.8) Guess we'll just have to wait to find out.
- One day, Mr. Heron (a rich Tory guy who lives nearby) and Tom Warrups come into the tavern for a drink.
- Actually, it turns out that Mr. Heron is there for more than just a drink: he's got to ask Tim for a favor. According to Mr. Heron, all he wants Tim to do is carry some "business letters" to the nearby town of Fairfield (5.36).
- Tim is seriously stoked about this idea. An adventure! To deliver letters! We're not sure yet, but something about the way Mr. Heron and Mr. Meeker are talking about "business letters" makes it sound like they aren't really business letters, you know?
- Anyway, Mr. Meeker thinks the idea of Tim walking all by himself to another town to deliver these weird letters sounds pretty sketchy.
- Mr. Heron says that Tom Warrups can't do it because he'd draw too much attention, while a boy wouldn't get bothered. Okay, it's official: now we have a seriously weird feeling about these so-called "business letters." Mr. Meeker puts his foot down and says Tim won't get to play postman.
- Tim is bummed, but once Mr. Heron and Tom leave, he finds out why his dad was so anti-adventure: "Those weren't business letters, Tim" (5.51). (Yeah, we know.) Tim figures that these "business letters" are probably some super crazy important war letters. And all he wants is to be part of this war like his brother. He figures that since Mr. Heron is a Tory and his dad is a Tory, it shouldn't be a problem for him to play messenger.
- So he decides to stand up to his dad, Sam-style.
- Let's get real here: this confrontation doesn't go too well. Tim yells, his dad yells, and it looks like Tim loses because he doesn't change his papa's mind. Oh well. Hold up: looks like Tim isn't giving up that quickly.
- He waits patiently for an opportunity to trick his dad, and two weeks later he gets one.
- Tim's friend Jerry asks him to go fishing and Mr. Meeker says sure. Sneaky little Tim's plan has worked: "I had my excuse to get away" (5.77). Yeah, we've got a bad feeling about this.
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