Study Guide

Ross Milton in Across Five Aprils

By Irene Hunt

Ross Milton

Nothing like a good ol' wise sage to admire, and Ross Milton fills that role perfectly. He has all the makings for a great role model:

  • he's the first line of defense for Jethro against Guy Wortman (5.83);
  • he actually wrote the book on proper English usage (5.136);
  • and he's pretty smooth with the ladies (5.120-121).

In other words, dude's basically got it all going on.

Along with Shad, Ross is a mentor for Jethro. Learning to speak properly is at the top of Jethro's syllabus, and Ross facilitates and nurtures Jethro's gradual linguistic improvement. The most important part about this, though, is that it's a gradual transformation. Just like the United States of America, it takes time, patience, and diligence for Jethro to become wiser. Luckily for Jethro, though, he's got Ross to show him the way.

Let Me Clear My Throat

But the most important thing about Ross Milton is his voice. Not the "crisp and decisive" (5.70) one that Jethro first notices; but Ross' power of influence and efficacy. After all, he's the editor of the county paper. And this isn't during a time when everyone with a laptop and a blog could consider themselves a writer. Ross is the man people look to for information, and that gives his voice particular power.

Like any good moral paradigm, Ross Milton uses his power for good. After Matt's barn is destroyed, Ross takes it upon himself to write an open letter in the paper to the arsonists. This is a huge deal. Everyone in the county reads it, and not only does Ross openly show his support for the Creightons, but he takes a firm stance against mob violence. Ross Milton is fearless when it comes to standing up for what he believes in, and in a book that's generally anti-war, he is a strong model for the power of words to address problems.

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