Early on, the Redoubters are media curiosities, gaining respect from their neighbors and apathy from the rest of the country. As time goes on and the federal government is unable to contain their uprising, the Redoubt spreads in land mass and in followers, but the conflict fades into the background of everyday life for the rest of the country.
It is only in the latter portion of the book that the Redoubt becomes the center of attention, as the conflict eventually escalates to a full-on civil war. Those on the sidelines struggle to decide whether to join in the fight, either out of unity or boredom. In “Umpqua,” a listless, angry young man whose friend has just been gunned down by the government thinks: “I tried to imagine what it would be like to join up. Squatting in a tent under the butte, listening to the FBI drones overhead. Eating camp rations. At least I’d be doing something.” The loner in “Too Much Love” joins up with the Redoubt at the losing end of their battle, hoping that a martyr’s death will have made his difficult life worthwhile:
I’m sorry, Mom, that I turned out so poor. Maybe Arn was right, if I’d
stood for something… or maybe now if Jess saw my flag-draped coffin
on the news. Would she love me then?... I looked at Arn, still glaring at
the line of bedraggled men along the road in the darkness, and I
almost laughed. I’d never once picked a winning team. There was no
reason to think I’d start now.