Study Guide

Across Five Aprils Chapter 3

By Irene Hunt

Chapter 3

  • In the summer, the war is in full swing. News of the first major battle of Bull Run hits the papers in late July but nobody is talking about the war with enthusiasm anymore, and some people are beginning to think the Union won't win as easily as they thought.
  • Tom and Eb eagerly head off to war in the late summer while John and Shad plan to leave by mid-winter; Bill is noticeably silent during most conversations about the war.
  • Battles are getting closer to the Creightons' home in Illinois.
  • Jethro is keen on listening to the adults talk about the war and learning all new names and places, but he has nightmares about the war too. Good thing his big brother Bill is there to calm his fears.
  • On this particular night, Bill opens up to Jethro about his feelings on the war.
  • Bill lets loose his fears and uncertainties, to the point where Jethro can't really understand—yet he continues to be the sounding board for Bill's confessional.
  • Eventually Bill realizes that Jeth is too young to be hearing all of this and they go to bed for the night.
  • All summer, neither of them mentions Jethro's nightmares.
  • With autumn in full bloom, Jethro heads up to Walnut Hill to enjoy the brief moments of nature's beauty.
  • Bill sneaks up on him and Jeth notices that his brother has been in a fight.
  • Oh, but not just any ol' fight—Bill was in a fight with John.
  • He fills Jethro in on all the details about how the fight between them was a long time coming.
  • But the biggest blow is that Bill tells Jethro that he's leaving to fight in the war. Like, pronto.
  • The reason for the abrupt departure is that Bill plans on fighting for the South while his father and John support the North. Naturally this causes some tension, hence the fight.
  • Jethro is unbearably upset at the idea of his favorite brother leaving, but Bill explains his reasons, and after some last minute big brother advice, Bill and Jethro say their goodbyes.