Study Guide

Bill Creighton in Across Five Aprils

By Irene Hunt

Bill Creighton

If the Creightons were a boy band, Bill would be the gentle and quiet bassist that all the girls swoon over. And with blond hair, blue eyes, and "great physical strength" (1.90), we wouldn't be surprised if he were the most popular band member, too. However, he has a reputation around town of being a bit "peculiar" (1.90) because he likes to read books and go to school with the younger boys. Hey—reading is sexy, folks.

Okay, back to Across Five Aprils. Jethro looks up to Bill and considers him hands-down his favorite brother. So it doesn't come as much of a surprise when Jethro grows up to resemble the gentle and quiet nature of Bill. Which, considering Bill's departure, makes Matt and Ellen keep close tabs on Jethro.

Speaking of Bill leaving, his great and glorious image is a bit tarnished after he joins up with the Confederate army. And the poor Creightons are left to put up with a community—particularly Guy Wortman—that has some major resentment toward Bill. While Bill's decision to join the Confederate army definitely gives us some pause (since slavery is evil and all), the general regard his family holds him in makes it hard for us to write him off completely. What do you think of Bill's Confederate allegiance? How does it influence your opinion of him?

Oh, and Bill pops back up again when he's a prisoner of war and bumps into John; the two brothers have a long chat to catch up. While learning of all the news back home, John writes, "[Bill's] eyes was on the ground and he was sayin nothin" (11.64). It could be that the hardships of battle have worn him down, or perhaps Bill's understanding about the war has shifted and he realizes that not only is he on the wrong side of history, but he's endangered and dragged his family down in the process.