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Why does Henry enlist?

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bbbysarah | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 14, 2010 at 9:48 AM via web

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Why does Henry enlist?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:12 AM (Answer #1)

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Basically, the reason that Henry enlists has to do with the fact that he thinks that war will be glorious.  He does not want to miss out -- he wants to make sure that he will get his share of the glory.  This can be found in Chapter 1.

After the war started, Henry had read a bunch of stuff about it.  He had also read accounts of other wars.  These accounts made him think of war as really heroic -- one word used is "Homeric."

He had burned several times to enlist. Tales
of great movements shook the land. They might
not be distinctly Homeric, but there seemed to
be much glory in them. He had read of marches,
sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all.
His busy mind had drawn for him large pictures
extravagant in color, lurid with breathless deeds.

At first, he doesn't enlist because his mother does not want him to, but eventually he can't take it any more and he goes and enlists no matter what she thinks.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 14, 2010 at 10:21 AM (Answer #2)

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Like many other young men of the period--in both the North and the South--Henry got caught up in the possible glory to be won on the battlefield. It would be a great adventure and he would serve his country like the patriotic boy he was.

Tales of great movements shook the land. They might not be distinctly Homeric, but there seemed to be much glory in them. He had read of marches, sieges, conflicts, and he had longed to see it all. His busy mind had drawn for him large pictures extravagant in color, lurid with breathless deeds.

However, his mother tried in vain to discourage him, but at last Henry made the decision to enlist. She cried as he left his home for what she worried would be the last time.

Henry's greatest worry was how he would react once he was under fire for the first time. Men talked of heroic deeds they would perform on the battlefield, but others wondered if they would run under the pressure of the Confederate guns. Henry was not alone in his thoughts. The Tall Soldier expressed his own worries telling Henry that he would probably run if everyone else ran, but that he would certainly stand and fight if his comrades did the same.

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