Courage and Cowardice
"I've got guts," Jerry murmurs to himself in the opening chapter, after hitting the ground following a heavy tackle on the sports field. Tackled three times in succession, Jerry is insulted by the coach, but he leaves the field determined to make the team. This opening scene establishes Jerry as a character who has the courage to withstand physical pain. He can get up again after being knocked down and come back for more. But there is another pain afflicting him. In the same opening chapter we discover that his mother is dead. It is the painful memory of her death, rather than the bruising he has received on the football field, which induces the nausea that ends Chapter 1. The straightforward physicality and competitiveness of football—in Chapter 28 it is called, from Jerry's point of view, the "honest contact of football"—is throughout contrasted with the psychological and emotional leverage exerted by both the Vigils and Brother Leon.
Archie is not without courage. Though he has never picked a black marble from the box (which would require him to carry out an assignment himself), the possibility is always there. He has the courage of his own convictions, especially in Chapter 27 when he resists Carter's insistence that the time for psychological tactics is over and the way should be cleared for straightforward physical bullying. Cowardice is found in the general student body of Trinity, among those who would like...
(The entire section is 2328 words.)
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