Children, growing up and learning the most from their parents, they often believe everything passed on by parents and older siblings. Ideals such as manners, faith, and morals are ingrained from a young age and believed true. Reuben Land, of Leif Engers’s ‘Peace Like a River’ is no exception. He was raised to believe in and pray to God, following the example of his father, Jeremiah Land. His older brother, Davy, however, did not hold the same respect towards Jeremiah, making Reuben’s loyalty to both of them rather strained. When Davy shoots and kills two boys, Reuben becomes confused about his feelings towards Davy. Reuben uses his admiration towards his brother to aid him in believing Davy’s innocence, ultimately clouding Reuben’s own judgment.
Reuben already sees Davy as a role model, making everything Davy does something Reuben wants to strive for and achieve himself. Reuben associates Davy as a figure of strength, and consistently wants to prove his own worth in Davy’s eyes. The first time this is apparent is while the Land family was out hunting, and Reuben was extremely cold and tired, yet denied himself to admit these things, for he didn’t want Davy to think he was weak. When Reuben failed to shoot a goose, Davy’s ‘present’ (7) to him, he states he was ‘blind with despair’ (7) and from the ‘tears’ in his ‘eyes’ (7). Reuben obviously holds a deep want for Davy’s acceptance, going so far as to deny his own needs so he can cater to what he thinks is Davy’s expectation.
Later, when the villains Israel and Jeremy come to their house and Davy confronts them, Reuben is automatically supporting his brother even as he holds the Winchester right in front of him. He goes on to think, “Israel had no chance,” “Not that he deserved one.” (49) Before anything had even taken place Reuben had already placed all of his faith in Davy, knowing he was capable, and that Davy was going to shoot. Reuben shows his further disgust towards Israel when he describes him as...
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