Johnny’s dream also draws attention to the different attitudes toward and motivations for war among the major Whig players. While Hancock seems to view war as a necessary evil on the path to independence, Johnny suspects that Adams wants war for the sake of war. Hancock, like Otis in his rousing speech, has lofty ideals at the heart of his rebelliousness. Adams, the dream suggests, might simply have revenge in mind when planning the war. In fact, Adams did have very personal reasons for disliking the British. His father had been a principal stockholder of the Land Bank organized in Massachusetts in 1740, and when the British Parliament destroyed the bank, his father was financially ruined. In addition, Adams’s personal history suggests that he was a born agitator, always eager for controversy and conflict. Adams’s rebelliousness might derive from the sort of petty pride and quick temper that once motivated Johnny to swear revenge on Dove. Supporting this suggestion are Otis’s parting words to Adams at the last meeting of the Boston Observers. “You’ll play your part,” Otis tells Adams scornfully, “but what it is really about . . . you’ll never know.” Otis clearly insinuates that Adams is an integral part of the revolution, but does not really know what the Americans are fighting for—namely, freedom, independence, and choice.

Finally, Johnny’s dream explores the complex moral situation concerning the sacrifice of lives for individual rights. The lobsters look up with their pitiful eyes, wanting their lives to be spared. The lobsters have done nothing wrong, but are being sacrificed to satisfy the hunger of Adams and Hancock. Similarly, the British soldiers have caused no offense to the colonists, but they will be killed because of a war started by the rebel leaders. Hancock may have loftier reasons for starting a war, but it is debatable whether his motives justify the loss of thousands of British and colonial lives. It seems almost hypocritical to sacrifice so many individual lives to achieve individual rights for all.