Comparing The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 and My Brother Sam Is Dead
In the novels The Watsons Go to Birmingham-1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis and My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier, two young boys are faced with the challenge of learning the moral and ethical codes that will shape their futures. Kenny Watson and Tim Meeker live in very different times, but they face events that complicate their lives. Though one boy learns his morals through playful encounters and the other is forced to educate himself during a war, the conclusion of each story shows that both characters have successfully found sets of rules to follow.
Kenny has to learn what is morally right through playful incidents. When Byron, his older brother, plays pranks and repeatedly disobeys rules, Kenny notices the disappointment on his parents' faces. Even though Kenny knows that the path his brother chooses to take is not wise, he views this as the adventurous way of life, and he is torn between becoming a shadow of his brother, who always seems to be having fun, or being the good, orderly son.
Tim Meeker is forced to choose either the Tory side or the Rebel side of the Revolutionary War, and from there, he has to defend his beliefs and opinions. This decision is equivalent to "obey His Majesty's government" (25) or to rebel.
To further complicate things, his brother, Sam Meeker, and his father, Eliphalet Meeker, are on opposing sides, and choosing the Rebel side is just like going against his father to side with Sam. At one point, an argument between Sam and his father about the war becomes so intense that his father called his son's uniform a "vile costume" (22).
Kenny's situation is not nearly as intense as Tim's is because Kenny is not forced to take a side and be ready to die for his beliefs. Kenny is also not compelled to watch innocent boys get taken away just because their parents have beliefs that are considered hereditary.
A similarity between Tim and Kenny's ethics is that both see...