Monday, December 22, 2014

Student Spotlight: Alleya W.

Hey everyone! Hope your holiday is coming along nicely as we head into Christmas this week and New Year the week after. My ninth grade students finished reading The Killer Angels in November and we've been working on Romeo and Juliet for December. Ringing in the New Year with a little Shakespeare!

The Killer Angels proved to be a challenge for both the students and me. It was not what any of us expected when we thought of a war story. The book made us think beyond the history lessons we've been taught and the generalizations that time has created. Even if it wasn't always enjoyable to read, the perspective was priceless. For this month's Student Spotlight, we have Alleya W. here on the blog to tell us about conflict within The Killer Angels and the impact it plays in the story.

Welcome Alleya!

Taking the Blame

Conflict is the different or opposing drives of the characters or forces in the book, which makes The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara, more interesting to read.  It may occur in the character’s mind or externally, which usually includes a protagonist. In this book, there are many different conflicts. There are man vs. society, man vs. self, man vs. nature, and of course man vs. man. However, man vs. self seems to be the point of The Killer Angels.
Man vs. self is most profound conflict in this novel. It happens within almost all the men mentioned in the novel. In many cases it changes the way the character thinks, which in return changes his actions or decisions. There are many examples, but the two I have chosen are Longstreet and Chamberlain because they both change from possible or past deaths in their personal lives.
Longstreet is a perfect example of man vs. self. Longstreet no longer takes part in playing poker, even though he was a legendary poker player. He hasn’t played since the death of his children and wife. Ever since then, he has sat by a tree in the darkness, “passing the time silently,” and watched (Shaara 49). It had changed his decision making because “what he had left was the army,”(127). After the war is over he has no family to go home to. He keeps having uncontrollable flashbacks to the day his first son died. He’s powerless to stop the visions or the way they died, which was scarlet fever.
Longstreet might have been powerless to stop their death but Chamberlain does anything he can to keep Tom, his little brother, safe. He always takes responsibility for Tom. When in the middle of battle there is a hole in the front line, he unconsciously puts Tom to fill it. Once he realizes what he’s done he starts questioning himself and doesn’t pay attention to what is going on around him. He knows “it was not right, not right at all.” He asks himself , “What would I tell mother if something happen to him?”(224).

The Killer Angels has many examples of man vs. self conflict. Many of these including the character blaming himself or changing his mind set because of something that happened in the past. Man vs. self made this novel much more interesting because it takes a look at the minds of the characters, which is not the expected focus in a Civil War story.

What do you think readers? What do you expect from a war story?

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