Howard Fast tells the frantic story of one monumental day in the life of a fifteen-year-old revolutionary committeeman, in his novel April Morning. Written in 1961, the work captures the strengths and weakness of the revolutionary American's. The ideas associated with the American dream are weaved throughout the work, but the most important theme of the work is community. Within the work the importance of the community and its collective fears and expectations are foundational to the growth of the characters and the growth of the work.
Many of the conflicts associated with the work are associated with the expectations and norms of the community. The community collectively challenges the British troops as a loosely-based militia, protecting their own lives and lands. According to Howard Fast the community was the thread that held together the revolution, collective morning of losses and cooperative sharing of resources when they were lost in conflict was the theme of the community. Additionally the reason and responsibility of those remaining alive after the conflict was over were bound by the pressures of the need of the family and the community as a whole.
The pressure of the community left Moses, Adam and Levi's father conflicted between his love for his family and his respectability in the community. Moses refrained from emotional ateachmetn to this children because he felt it would make them week in the eyes of the community. His piety built walls between his children and their curiosity and creativity. "When I drew the water form the well, I said the spell to take the curse off water, "Holly ghost and holy hell, get thee out of the mossy well." My father once heard me say that spell, and he took me into the barn and gave me seven with the birch rod. He hated spells and said they were worse than an instrument of the devil; they were the instrument of ignorance." (9)
The family held an important position in the community, a position with a long history of piety and righteousness. The world that Adam rebelled against caused a great deal of internal conflict for Adam, his father and the whole family.
"Don't ever talk most to me, Adam. Most folks are not Coopers, and most folks do not live in this village or in this county either. Most folks are not dissenters, and most folks would just as soon find a chain to put around their necks, considering one wasn't there already. Coopers have been teachers and pastors and free yeoman farmers and ship captains and merchants for a hundred and fifty years on this soil, and I don't recall one of them who couldn't write a sermon and deliver it too, if the need ever arose." "Well, maybe you're leaning on the first one, Granny," I said. (14-15)
Even the person with the clearest sense of who Adam is and who he is trying to become, his Granny, demonstrates with her above statement that she still expects him to tow the line, no matter his feelings about god, faith or community. The messages of Moses, based on the conflict of how the community might see his children if they did not act as he saw fit are throughout the work and throughout the relationship he has with his sons.
-- we have always prided ourselves that we are in a sense people of the book. My brothers and I were raised, and I make every effort to raise my own children, not as blackguards and loafers, not as soldiers or tavern sots, but as thoughtful and reasoning creatures, men who honor the written word, who respect intelligent writing, and who, like the ancient philosophers look upon argumentation and disputation as avenues toward the deepest truth ... Nor are my neighbors unlike me. (21)
Moses' conflicts with his son, are those of a man expecting the actions and thoughts of a man grown at fifteen. He expects his children to represent him and his family in the community and he will settle for nothing less, even if he must beat obedience and compliance into them.
The community collected together the ideals and the standards of the region, yet they also collected the resources necessary for a revolution. They created inventories of their resources, weapons, food and the like. At this crucial stage everyone knew what the other had to share with the cause, and for the most part it seems few held back. At the committeemen meeting the inventory was read. "Samuel Hodley too the floor again and gave the results of the weapons count for the village and surrounding area ... Hodley wanted a central shot and pow[d]er depot organized in the village ... " (30-31)
Just after the first muster of the day in the commons, which had ended with the deaths of several important members of the community not the least of which was Adam's father, Adam sat cowering in hiding, sobbing greatly. "I sat there and cried. I hadn't cried so much since I was a small boy, very small, because a boy gets over crying early in a town like ours." (98) He was rethinking the civility of his own community and how they had believed they would be able to change the minds of the bloodthirsty British. The village was attacked with fury and fierceness, almost as if they were to be an example and they did not return fire but ran instead for cover.
Yet, Adam knew that he could not return home, until after dark, at first he hid in a nearby shed, but realized after he heard and saw three redcoats near him that he would not be safe here either so he ran. It was then that he shared the news of the village with a wise neighbor and they marched to the second muster of Adam's day. It was there that Adam began to really see what would happen next and what his father and the other men had accomplished by collectively planning the Committeemen militia. "More and more, I began to understand what an amazing piece of organization my father and the other Committeemen had carried out." (122) In the midst of beginning to see the good in his father, and downplay the bad, a later stage of grief carried quickly along by the circumstances of his life at this moment, he began to see the world through the eyes of a man rather than the eyes of a selfish child. He listened to the detailed plans of the men, to hold back the British with an element of wisdom of the land and with the collaboration of a well made plan
It was true that no one was shouting orders, that men just drifted in from every direction, without appearing to be in much of a hurry about it, and that the hundred-odd men sprawled about in the pasture looked as unlike and army as anything you might conceive of; but nevertheless they were carrying out their purpose with a calm that astonished me, and they were where they had to be with time enough to spare. (122)
The community of men was calm and collected with energy to spare and the camaraderie of the moment, brought together by the threat of the loss of their lives and their homes and the calm and righteous revenge of senseless death. "I have never seen men really relaxed unless they were in a position secure from intrusion by women. No matted how hard and bad their case might be, they took it as a holiday." (121) This was the undercurrent of the community, together as a last and unexpected resort, and yet they were strong, in good humor and sharing collectively their plans desires…