Study Guide

Across Five Aprils Chapter 12

By Irene Hunt

Chapter 12

  • In December, Sherman is able to capture Savannah and people are talking about his march through Georgia, leaving destruction in its path. After that, it's on to South Carolina where one of Ed Turner's sons is.
  • He writes home to tell his family all about the annihilation he's witnessing and Ed is worried about how this will affect his son. (Legit concern, Ed.)
  • But everyone is talking that the war will be over soon, and even Eb writes home to say he think he'll be back by spring.
  • And yet the South doesn't give up.
  • It's 1865 now, and Jethro is thirteen and has definitely changed from his younger years.
  • Matt and Ellen notice how much he reminds them of Bill, which worries them considering how their older son left the family.
  • After speaking with Ross Milton, Jethro is left pondering their talk on war and peace.
  • Milton explains that peace won't be perfect, which is a small blow for Jeth because he wants peace to be perfect.
  • But he understands that even if the war ends, Tom won't come back and possibly Bill won't either.
  • They talk about the 13th Amendment, and Milton explains to Jeth how legally passing it is only a step in the right direction—all other progress depends on the people.
  • Everyone waits for peace through February and March.
  • Then finally in April—the fifth of April—word breaks that a peace treaty has been signed.
  • Jethro is allowed to travel to Newton and witnesses the jubilant celebrations throughout the county.
  • Milton takes him out to dinner where there is more celebration that the war is over.
  • The next day Jethro tells his family all about the parties he saw.
  • Things are going great for Jeth, and he's finally enjoying April for once.
  • But then horrible news comes from Nancy one day as she tearfully tells Jethro the President has been killed.
  • Jethro is devastated.
  • News travels and people start to learn the details of Lincoln's assassination; Jethro wants to go to Springfield to see the body but knows he won't be able to.
  • Instead he goes up to Walnut Hill and grieves for the man he deeply admires.
  • While he's there, someone comes to comfort him.
  • Jethro keeps his head down until the person speaks and Jeth recognizes the voice.
  • It's Shad.
  • Jethro gives him the biggest hug in the history of hugs, and then the two of them just stare at each other for a while, taking in all the changes that have occurred since they last stood together.
  • Shad tells Jethro how he actually saw Lincoln the night he was shot and that he looked happy.
  • After some silence, Shad says he could bring Jethro to Springfield, but isn't sure if it would be best.
  • Jethro agrees.
  • Trying to lighten the mood, Shad switches topics and says that Jenny and he will be helping Jethro and Ellen with the farm work, and John will be returning shortly too.
  • When Jethro asks if Shad will be teaching in the winter, it's the perfect opportunity for Shad to tell Jeth some good news.
  • Not only will Shad not be teaching at the schoolhouse, but he'll be going back to college—and he's taking Jethro with him.
  • Jethro doesn't exactly react with the same caliber of excitement as we do (we love college), but Shad helps him realize that everyone in the family wants him to have an education.
  • They head back to the cabin where, upon seeing his sister again, "all the shadows were lifted from that April morning" (12.107).