Study Guide

Across Five Aprils Plot Analysis

By Irene Hunt

Plot Analysis


War is in the Air

The whole Creighton clan is working on the farm and waiting to hear back from Shadrach Yale regarding the impending war. We are introduced to the whole family: Matt, Ellen, Jethro, Bill, Tom, Eb, Jenny, John, and even Nancy. Whew—we think we got them all.

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

Put Me in Coach, I'm Ready to Play

It's official: war is here. So the older boys (John, Bill, Shad, Eb, and Tom) all sign up to fight the good fight. Well except for Bill who actually leaves to fight for the Confederacy. That's gonna make family reunions a bit awkward…

Family foe Dave Burdow ends up protecting Jethro on his solo drive home from Newton. But after hearing the story, Matt can't handle the stress and suffers a heart attack, which leaves Jethro to be the man of the house at the ripe old age of ten.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

The Roof is on Fire

Things keep getting worse for the Creightons, and local bullies eventually burn down Matt's barn in the middle of the night. At least everyone in the community likes and respects Matt so they all chip him to help him out on the farm. Still—it's a pretty scary run for the Creighton family.

Dan Lawrence brings news that Tom has been killed in battle. Jenny remarks that she didn't realize the reality of war until this news came.

Falling Action

All's Well That Ends… Oh Wait

Good news: the war is over and celebrations are erupting all over the place. Bad news: Lincoln is assassinated soon afterward.


Surprise, Surprise

Shad and Jenny return to the farm with a surprise homecoming. But that's not the only surprise. Shad tells Jethro that he's going to live with him and Jenny and get a proper education. Goodbye farm fields, hello academia.

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