Images and symbolism of youth and a “coming of age” are the themes in April Morning. Describe and analyze Fast’s use of this dual-symbolism in both Adam’s character and in the emergence of a young nation. The “coming of age” means different things to different people. In the novel April Morning we observe 15 year old Adam Cooper’s rapid transformation from boyhood to manhood, while our great nation begins a metamorphosis of it’s own.
The significant events that can sum up these changes include the death of Adam’s father, the brief comfort and advice from Solomon Chandler and the experiences during the battle against the redcoat soldiers that changed our nation forever. A boy named Adam Cooper had just heard that the redcoats were going to attack and he was ready to sign the muster book. When a young boy goes to war, and sees blood, that is when he becomes a man. “…but I had been Pontiac at least a dozen times, and I had scalps hidden in my room to prove it. ” (pg. 92) The game, Pontiac, had been a favorite of the boys in town. They made circles with “red coats” on the outside and “Indians” were on the inside. The Indians were supposed to get eliminated by the redcoats, except for Pontiac. Pontiac would get to choose who’s ever head he wanted from the “redcoats”. Nearly a year later he and his friends are still playing the game, but for real and as men! Boys became men in just under a year. “We were twenty one-strong when we reached Ashley’s Pasture. ” (pg. 127) This comes from the coming of age for the young nation.
Twenty-one soldiers didn’t know if they had any help for them on the other side of the hill, and all they really knew was that their homeland was in some serious danger and needed some help fast! There are not many things in life more important than your family. When a family member dies, the impact can be very traumatic. Adam Cooper’s father is a very important character in this novel. The mere presence of Adam’s father, Moses, illustrates how Adam is still a boy under the care of his father at the start of the battle, however, when Moses is killed on the common, his absence propels Adam into a new phase of his life. A boy went to bed and a man awakened, hey, Adam? ”(pg. 68) At Moses Cooper’s death, the men of the village are lined up in formation on the common. Not one of them expected to fight the British, however, the British opened fire upon the line of villagers. The first to perish is Moses Cooper. Imagine being eye to eye and neck to neck with your enemy and all of a sudden you witness a gunshot pierce your father in the heart, and then watch him drop dead right in front of your eyes. “My father clutched at his breast, then crumpled to the ground like a empty sack and lay with his face in the grass. ” (pg. 00) Adam witnesses this, but he does not have time to mourn just yet. This was the start of the transformation of both Adam Cooper and our nation as we know it. Solomon Chandler is also a very influential character in Adam’s development after his ordeal at the common. Solomon’s calm attitude and words of wisdom helped Adam cope with the pain from his father’s death. Solomon tells Adam to let out his emotions because it is a normal reaction. He also explains to Adam why he should have a deep sense of respect for his fears, which are the Redcoat soldiers, and the only way to overcome them is to face them.
During the whole period of time when Adam and Solomon are walking through the countryside, Solomon acts as a shoulder for Adam to cry on. Solomon is also a temporary “replacement” for Adam’s father in that he acts as a father figure towards Adam. The large retaliation attack mounted by the colonists ended the immediate English threat in the region. Adam does not play a major role in the outcome of the battle, however the battle plays a major role in Adam’s development. This is the point at which Solomon’s advice is put to the test.
Adam faces his fears, and overcomes the hatred and fear he has for the redcoats. After the battle gets up and going though, Adam is exhausted and falls asleep. Adam’s progression into manhood is now complete. At the end of the novel, Adam understands that he must eventually go back to fighting, but he realizes that his priority is watching over his mother, Granny and Levi. At the age of 15 you still have much to learn from your father and are not prepared to be the one to take care of everything and make sure that your family is ok. Then he saw me in the open door, ran to me, and threw himself sobbing into my arms, hanging onto me as if the only thing left in the whole world. ” (pg. 104) Adam’s younger brother, Levi, realizes his father is dead and the responsibility to comfort him and take care of him rests solely on Adam. This is what being “the man of the house” means. Since Adam is now a man, he has to figure out how to do this on his own to save his family. Even if that means fighting in a war and maybe even dying to protect the ones that you love.
Adam joining the army, watching his father die in front of him on the battlefield, and taking on new responsibilities in his family were parallel to the challenges our young, but maturing nation was facing. “You lived a man’s life today and you did a man’s work. ” (pg. 198) I think that some of the reasoning behind Moses Cooper letting Adam fight in the war was that Adam was no longer a small child like his brother Levi. He was growing up, and if he told Adam not to fight in the war he probably wouldhave anyway. If I had forbade him to sign that muster book then andthere, I would have lost a son. Is that what you want? But I saw him there sotall and strong I could have wept. You can’t shelter him. There comes a time,and this is that time. ” (page 75) Moses Cooper understood that Adam’s experiences would certainly alter his life, but I’m not sure he understood how important those 24 hours would be for Adam, his family and for the emergence of our great nation. “Twelve minutes after nine and you’ve lost your youth and come to manhood, all in a few hours, Adam Cooper. ” (pg. 115)