The Bloody Country Study Guide

The Bloody Country By James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

Wyoming Valley, Pennsylviania, during the Revolutionary War. Martha and Daniel are fighting about whether their nine-year-old son, Ben, and his Native American slave, Joe Mountain, should go berry-picking while there was a war going on. Martha believes it's too dangerous, and Daniel believes they'll be fine if they stay off of the roads.

On the way out to the berry patch, the boys talk about why Joe is a slave when he is only half Indian. They decide he should be a slave in the morning, and free in the afternoon. As they fill their berry baskets, they hear Indian warriors coming, so they drop their baskets and sprint two miles home, where they report to their parents.

Immediately, the family starts collecting food, chopping wood, and gathering water, so they can survive on their own for a few days. Two days later, the warriors arrive while the boys are getting firewood. The boys are on their way back when they are treated to a shocking sight: Martha is getting scalped right in front of them. They hide and wait, and mourn.

Shortly after, the mill gets snowed in, and weeks pass with nothing happening. The biggest danger is the snow melting too quickly and sending a chunk of ice big enough to wreck the waterwheel down the river. Spring arrives quickly, and the workload increases to a frenetic pace; there is no free time for anything to happen in.

One morning, the boys and their father wake up to see that their fears have come true: the mill has been shattered by ice coming down the river, and their life in Wyoming Valley is over. They gather what little they have left, and move to Connecticut to avoid the war.

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