Study Guide

Sam Gardiner in Across Five Aprils

By Irene Hunt

Sam Gardiner

This guy is definitely on Team Creighton, and for that we adore him. The "pudgy, round-faced proprietor of the general store" (7.45) first wins us over when he throws some free gumdrops in Jethro's bag, which is literally a sweet deal. And when Guy Wortman starts running his drunk mouth against Bill and Matt, not only does Sam toss him out, but he tells Jethro that it was right to stand up for his brother even though he himself is not a fan of Bill turning Reb either. Blood is thicker than water, or so the saying goes.

Our favorite contribution that Sam makes, though, comes in the form of a bullet hole in Wortman's backside. Sam tricks the bully into thinking he is leaving the store unattended for a week to lure him and his band of hooligans in, and then when they show up to rob Sam's shop right on schedule, Sam pops out and shoots Wortman right in the tuches.

Standing up to a bully can be hard, but Sam offers an exemplary display of vigilante courage. Coming from someone who "minced no words in his anger over what had happened at the Creighton farm" (7.45), Sam single-handedly takes Wortman down in a small victory for Jasper county—or, at least for those on the side of justice. Just like Ross Milton, Sam courageously fights the smaller battle against ignorance and hatred in the county—and in doing so, reminds us that often change begins at home.