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MonkeyNotes-The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
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Major THEME

"The Cause"

" ‘We are fighting for freedom from the rule of what is to us a foreign government.’ " (p.65&66)

"[Our boys’] morale is simply amazing. Really is. Never saw anything like it in the old [Mexican war] army. They’re off on a Holy War. The Crusades must have been a little like this. Wish I’d been there. Seen old Richard and the rest."

Longstreet said, "They never took Jerusalem."

Armistead squinted.

"It takes a bit more than morale." Longstreet said.

"Oh sure." But Longstreet was always gloomy...

"A Holy War," Longstreet said. He shook his head. He did not think much of the Cause. He was a professional: the Cause was Victory. (p.63)


Longstreet’s pessimism (typical of a realist) foreshadows the Confederate failure in the battle and the war. Longstreet hints that the Confederacy will lose because of what it lacks: men, guns, food, and commanders who put reason above chivalry. Longstreet sees this "it’s all about the morale" thinking as irrational. Longstreet knows that numbers win battles, not passion. Lee thinks differently. Longstreet wants to take a defensive position and wait out the enemy. Lee wants a chivalrous, morale-building charge. Note the Union vs. Confederacy, Idealism vs. Realism, Longstreet/Buford parallel, and Longstreet vs. Lee theme strands, as well as the use of an allusion.

" ‘[Armistead] was one of the rare ones who was genuinely glad to see another man advance. In some of them there was a hunger for rank--in Jubal Early it was a disease--but Armistead...was an honest man, open as the sunrise, cut from the same pattern as Lee: old family, Virginia gentleman, man of honor, man of duty. He was one of the men who would...die for a word. He was a man to depend on, and there was this truth about war: it taught you the men you could depend on.’ " (p.62) This quotation about fighting for self-advancement also touches on Human Nature, Gentlemen, and War Truths. In addition, it contains a simile.

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