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The White Mountains and My Brother Sam Is Dead
During childhood and adolescence, we are all faced with decisions that will affect our futures. Even a simple choice such as choosing books to read or clothes to wear can make an impact on our lives. The decisions made by Will Parker in The White Mountains and Sam Meeker in My Brother Sam Is Dead, however, are of a much greater magnitude. Their difficult decisions change the lives of many other characters. By choosing to go against their families' beliefs, Will and Sam both become orphans. The two young men are cast out into a dangerous world and have to learn about independence and its hardships.
From the very beginning of The White Mountains, Will Parker clearly observes that Capping is a questionable and unethical process: "Why should the Tripods take people away and Cap them? What right have they?" (19) He believes that each person should be allowed to control him or herself and that no machine should be in supreme command. Will's decision to leave home shows this, and his escape to the mountains proves that the Tripods can't make everyone a follower. Will and his friends experience many close calls but are never captured. Will also is tempted to become Capped by the lure of a pretty girl's face (Eloise). He learns that "Before Capping there might be doubts and uncertainties and revulsion. . . . When the Cap was put on the doubts vanished" (133). After hearing this, Will almost gives in to Capping, but then he realizes that in doing so, he would be going against all of his beliefs.
In My Brother Sam Is Dead, Sam Meeker clearly shows what he believes by enlisting in the American Revolutionary Army. Even if it means losing his father's love and trust forever, Sam feels that what England is doing to the colonies is wrong. He also knows that if he doesn't fight on the American side, his soul would never rest. Sam Meeker risks everything, including his life, to support and defend the new United States and all of his beliefs. He and the other soldiers could have easily given up and gone home, but they know that by letting the British win, they would show everyone how weak the American army, as a whole, really is. His brave decision to stay does cost him his life, but it also helps to ensure that the Unites States would be free of England.
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The two books show similarities in the decisions made by the main characters. For example, both Will Parker and Sam Meeker disagree with how their society functions. They both decide to go against it by responding in a radical way. Will chooses to run away, but Sam chooses to fight. Another similarity between the young men is that they both feel enslaved by their societies. Will is enslaved by the Tripods, and Sam is enslaved by the British and their government. Another example is that both the characters are shunned by their families because of their moral beliefs to be independent and free. In addition, both have someone supporting them. Will has Henry and Beanpole, and Sam has Betsy. Will's mission of going to the mountains is successful and well-worth the days of agony and fear. Sam's mission of becoming free of England is, in a way, successful as well. Although he loses his life, his effort and courage help the United States win.
After reading The White Mountains and My Brother Sam Is Dead, I realized that I, too, can make a difference in the world. By standing up for what I believe, even if it is insignificant, I can contribute to society. I understand the importance of keeping a code of ethics and following it, even if I am tempted to break away. I also understand the great responsibility that comes with freedom and independence. I have come to believe that Will and Sam are both heroes, and I respect them. By reading these books, I understand how an author can create a story so powerful that it leaves a strong imprint on my memory.