Across Five Aprils Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Across Five Aprils Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

No wrong or right

A general idea that dominated the novel from the beginning is that there is no idea that is universally wrong or right. Both sides involved in the war between the South and the North are both wrong to some extent and right to another. This idea is accentuated by Ellen realizing that Lincoln has to choose between two wrong paths that are controversial.


Another recurrent motif in the novel is the way families get divided by the war between the South and the North. While one may assume that a family will automatically pick a side just because they live in a certain part of the country, this idea is untrue. The reader is able to see from the beginning how a family is torn apart by different political views. This idea is continued throughout the novel and it applies to many of the family presented in the novel.

Misinterpreted facts

In the spring of the year 1862, the vast majority of the population tried to interpret the events that happened in the previous months and they concluded that if battles have taken place, then the war must come to an end soon. Their opinion is not only untrue, but it also shows how basic their opinions on the war were. The population believed that in the end there would be a winner and a loser and the winner will not suffer at all. These types of ideas are a recurrent motif in the novel and characterize many characters.


After Jethro is attacked, Matt tries to seek justice for his son but is unable to do it because he has a heart attack. The heart attack is a symbol that stands for the inner turmoil that Matt experienced. The stress that was the result of the war, his sons leaving his home and the public scrutiny he faced made Matt reach his breaking point.

Loss of faith

When the generals begin to loose battle after battle, the soldiers start to lose their faith in the nation they try to protect and in the leaders they follow. As a result, many become traitors and desert their commanders. The situation becomes problematic not because the soldiers decide to leave, but because of what it represents. Those who don’t take part in the war see the mass desertion as being a symbol for the incapability of the political system and this represents a danger because the masses begin to stop believing in the cause.

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