My Brother Sam Is Dead
by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
Thoughts and Opinions
Everyone in My Brother Sam Is Dead has an opinion about everything—especially that stinkin' war. And knowing each character's opinion helps us understand these folks just a wee bit better.
When we get to know Betsy, we learn that she considers the Patriots to be heroes. Mr. Meeker judges the Patriots as traitors. And Sam thinks the Patriots rocks. And Tim, well, Tim doesn't know what to think. But even though Tim isn't sure of his own opinions, this actually helps us to figure out that he's an indecisive, flip-flopping kind of guy.
There's a war going on here folks, so that means there's a lot of action. And it's not just about the excitement—these actions tell us a lot about the characters involved. We learn whether they are hard-working or lazy, and whether they support the war or are against it. That's some pretty important information we can gather just by paying attention to how the characters act.
So you want to know that Mrs. Meeker is a hard-working woman? Just check out how she spends all day tending the store and tavern. We're tired just thinking about it. Or are you eager to learn about Sam's rebellious side? Well, look no further than his decision to run away from home and join the army. See what we mean?
Here's the deal: lots of places in the American colonies identify either with the Continentals or with the Tories. This means that where a character is from says a lot about his or her political ideas.
Check out the moment when the cowboys attack Tim and his dad. The first thing these cowboys want to know is "Where from?" (7.41). When they find out Tim and his Pops are from Redding, they immediately make an assumption: "Tory country" (7.43). And it's true: Mr. Meeker is definitely more on the Tory side of things.
But not every character identifies with the norm for his town. Take Sam: he's from Redding, too, but that boy sure isn't a Tory. So watch out for those surprises.