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At various points in "An Episode of War" by Stephen Crane, people make gestures of...

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reedcapps | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 2) Honors

Posted July 1, 2013 at 6:20 PM via web

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At various points in "An Episode of War" by Stephen Crane, people make gestures of kindness towards the lieutenant. Use a chart like the one shown below to record these details and explain why they fail. What Naturalist ideas about the possiblity of kindness does this series of details imply?

Event or Detail

Why It Fails

Naturalist Idea


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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 2, 2013 at 12:00 AM (Answer #1)

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A basic chart can be established with three columns, each representing the required elements.  I think that you might have to find some events that could be used.  I would think that one such event would be the Lieutenant's men noticing his injury.  Another event that could be used would be the officer that tries to dress the wound.  The army surgeon who ends up performing the amputation on the soldier and the ending scene of  the Lieutenant's mother, wife, and sisters weeping at his condition could also be used as the last two events.

The next step is to analyze how each detail represents failure.  This will require you to examine the futility present in each action.  For example, the men who notice the Lieutenant's injury display a sense of care.  Yet, the failure is that they are unable to do anything.  They see reality and can articulate what is wrong with it, but are incapable of providing any solution to it.  Another example that could be used would be the tears of the Lieutenant's mother, sisters, and wife.  They display empathy in their sobbing, but this gesture of kindness is a futile one because it fails to help the Lieutenant nor does it provide any solace for his condition.  

Finally, I think that being able to discuss the Naturalist idea present in each scene might require you to reflect on what Naturalism means and how it is present in these instants.  For example, the Naturalist's emphasis on scientific principles can be seen when the army surgeon amputates the arm.  The surgeon is embodying scientific reality that will forever transform the life of the Lieutenant.  Another example of Naturalism at play would be with the army officer who is an ordinary person placed in an extraordinary circumstances.  He notices the condition of the Lieutenant and has the ability to offer some level of life back to him. He is placed in a situation that he is clearly unable to handle, with his true nature revealed in how he is unable to effectively help the Lieutenant with stopping the destructive extent of his injury.  A chart can help outline all of these in a direct and focused manner.


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