In the book Across Five Aprils, by Irene Hunt, is set in the 1800’s during the civil war between the Union, the northern parts of America, and the confederation, the southern parts of America. The story sets off on a farm in southern Illinois, where Jethro and his mother, Ellen Creighton, live with his 8 siblings. As the war escalates, Jethro’s older brothers and his teacher go to help the war effort. Most of his brothers join the Union but Bill, his favorite brother, goes to join the Confederation.
As the story progresses each of the brothers send mails to the family describing how to warfront is doing, which was contrary to how the newspapers described the warfront. After every victory and every loss, the public opinion about the war and the Generals change from the slightest bit of news they hear. In the early stages of the war, Ulysses S. Grant early victories for the Union at Fort Henry and Fort Donelson. The family celebrates the victory, knowing nothing of how terrible the battles truly were.
After General Grant’s victories, people start to doubt and compare General McClellan, who was once featured in the newspaper in the north as being a “Brilliant” General. Later on in the war, the Union forces suffer great losses and General Grant is harshly criticized by the press, who is later praised by the press and the people after the Battle of Gettysburg. This shows how easily influenced people are. They harshly criticize or overly glorify after every battle and change their opinions about the Generals.
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Jethro shows his distrust to the press and other people’s opinions when he is asked if he is going against General Grant. He replies by saying “No, I ain’t. Things went against him-“(Ch6 pg. 100). As the war is raging throughout the land, Jethros family receives letters from his brothers. In those letters they describe the terrors of war but try to moderate how much they put in the letter to not make the family worry. Jethro watches as people are overjoyed by the victories and angry about losses.
Jethro realizes that there is great contrast between the victories described by his brothers and the victories described in the newspapers. At the near end of the war, Jethro watches as the same people who criticized grant and the Union, cheer and say that “I told you so – old Unconditional Surrender Grant is the man who will win the war. ”(Ch10 pg. 168). This demonstrates how easily people are swayed and how easily they are able change their opinions.
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