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This collection of short answer questions for the novel My Brother Sam Is Dead focuses on the literary aspects of the book, primarily with regards to the changes and conflicts faced by the protagonist, Timothy Meeker. It also follows how Tim perceives of the older brother he admires so much and the country at war which has taken his brother away and changed his life so dramatically. Page numbers and answers are synchronized with the paperback version of the novel.
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Chapters One Through Five
- According to Sam, what is worth dying for? (p. 7) According to Sam, he would sacrifice his life for freedom.
- What does Sam mean when he says Redding is Tory country? (p. 34) Most people in Redding are loyal to British rule.
- What is the difference between being the son of a farmer and the son of a tavern keeper? (p. 40) Running a farm is hard work because you often had to work in the fields alone, whereas in a tavern people come and go frequently. Tim might have chores like scrubbing floors and chopping wood, but he’s not lonely.
- Where does Sam get his rebelliousness? When does this revelation occur to Tim? (p. 50-51) Sam is rebellious like his father. Tim realizes this when the Continental soldiers attack Father in the tavern.
- Where was Sam supposed to be? (p. 57) He was supposed to be in Danbury buying cattle, but he went home to Redding for a couple of days to visit Betsy Read.
- What would happen to Sam if he went back to camp without his weapon? (p. 58) The officers would hang him.
- Why were the people of Redding so upset? (p. 62) They were disarmed by the Continental army.
- As the war continued, what were some of the problems faced by Tim’s family and their neighbors? They had no guns to protect the livestock from wolves, there were food shortages, and prices for food and other necessities continued to rise.
- What does Mr. Heron offer to do for Tim? Why did Mr. Heron really want to ask of Tim? (p. 66) He offers to take Tim on as an apprentice in two years if he continues with his schooling so that eventually he could become a surveyor. Mr. Heron really wants Tim to deliver some business letters to Fairfield.
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My Brother Sam Is Dead Quiz Questions, Chapters 6-10
- Who does Tim meet on the road to Fairfield? (p. 78) Tim meets Betsy Read on the road to Fairfield.
- Why did Father travel to Verplanks Point every year? What was different about this year’s trip? (p. 89) Father sold livestock like pigs and cattle so he could afford to purchase items they needed to run the tavern. Tim will have to accompany his father this year.
- Tim’s cousin, Ezekiel asks Tim which side he’d choose to be on if he had to become a soldier. How does Tim respond? (p. 103) At first Tim claims to be a Loyalist like his father, but when he considers the possibility of facing his own brother on the field of battle, Tim looses confidence in his choice.
- What happens to Father on the way home from Verplanks Point? (p. 119) While scouting ahead for thieves on the road home, Father is ambushed by cow-boys and taken away.
- Why does Mother try to get in touch with Sam? (p. 130) With Father gone, Tim and Mother need Sam’s help around the tavern.
- How does Tim change once he gets the oxen and wagon home without Father? (p. 132) He takes on the chores of running the tavern without complaint, unlike before when he would avoid his chores.
- Why was Tim angry at the Rebels and Sam? (p. 134) Tim was angry at the Rebels for starting the war and causing so much loss and suffering amongst the people who stayed home. Tim was also angry with Sam for running off to play soldier instead of taking care of his family when they needed him.
- What surprising event happens to Jerry Sanford? (p. 139) Jerry is hauled away to the British training ground with Captain Betts and Mr. Rogers.
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My Brother Sam Is Dead Quiz Questions, Chapters 11-14
- Where does Tim go when he tells his mother he needs to check on the livestock? (p. 154) Tim goes in search of Sam amongst General Benedict Arnold’s troops.
- Where do Sam’s loyalties lie? (p. 161) Sam says his duty is to his country first.
- Who died during the summer of 1777? (p. 166) Father contracted cholera and died on a prison ship. Jerry Sanford, Tim’s childhood friend, also died on a prison ship.
- What did Father always use to say about war? (p. 167) “In war the dead pay the debts for the living."
- What does Sam advise Tim to do with the cattle? (p. 173) Sam advises Tim to butcher the cows and hide the meat before the cattle are stolen.
- Why does Sam race out to the barn? (p. 180) He has heard a noise and, thinking something is disturbing the cattle, he races outside to find four of the cows missing.
- How did Mother respond to Sam’s predicament? (p. 191) Tim often spotted her drinking a glass of rum and staring into space with empty eyes.
- How does Tim respond to the news that his brother will not receive clemency? (p. 205) He sharpens the bayonet on the gun, sneaks out to the stockade where his brother is being kept, and tosses the gun into the stockade in an effort to help Sam escape.
- How did Sam die? (p. 208) Sam stands before a firing squad and is shot several times. Since the soldiers were standing so close, Sam’s shirt catches fire. His death was not instant, so another soldier had to fire an extra shot before Sam died.
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Ideas for an Extended Review
Apart from this My Brother Sam Is Dead quiz for review, you can also get students involved in their own assessment. Challenge your students to ask their own questions about each chapter from the novel. Another suggestion is to hold class discussions on themes from the novel, such as loyalty, freedom, commitment, family, choices, and the price of war. Have students create graphic organizers to compare themes and events from the novel to modern day scenarios of family and war. Finally, ask students to make their own choices: if they were Tim or Sam Meeker, or even Mr. or Mrs. Meeker, what would they do in the same situations? Have your class role play in groups to demonstrate their points of view.
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Great novels are meant to be explored on a variety of levels. With the help of this My Brother Sam is Dead quiz and a few other activities, your class will be well-prepared to tackle any exam or open discussion about this fascinating and classic young adult novel.
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Collier, James Lincoln and Christopher Collier. My Brother Sam Is Dead. Scholastic: New York, 1974.
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A Quiz for the Book My Brother Sam is Dead
Access any of the following My Brother Sam Is Dead activities articles to making planning for reading this great novel with your students an easier and inspiring experience.