Since Across Five Aprils is a book about war, you probably saw this theme coming. To say the topic of death comes up more than once would be a massive understatement, and the real kicker is that war isn't the only culprit, although it definitely takes its toll.
Jethro's family is well-acquainted with mortality long before the South decides to secede from the Union, and once the older boys join up to fight in the war, the reality of experiencing a death in the family becomes very plausible again. Shad even straight-up writes to Jenny saying that she'll probably end up in heartache. We don't think that was quite the kind of love letter she was expecting, but at least he was alive to write it.
Questions About Mortality
How does Jethro feel about the death of people he doesn't know versus those he does? Do these feelings change over the course of the book?
How does the experience of death in war change the boys who fought in battle?
Who gets affected most by the aftermath of death?
Chew on This
War without death is impossible, but a shift in Jethro's perception of the war occurs once Tom becomes another war casualty.
Death traps its victims in time, with the young men who die forever remaining young, and Tom being always remembered as "young Tom" (12.45).