Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In The Girl in White Armor: The Story of Joan of Arc, Albert Bigelow Paine has written a popular history of an astonishing story. Over the course of twenty-one chapters, he documents the life of an illiterate peasant girl who led armies against the English occupiers of France, who instigated the crowning of King Charles VII, and who was finally captured, tried, and burned alive. All these events took place over a period of two-and-a-half years while Joan was still a teenager.

In the first two chapters, Paine briefly writes on Joan’s early environment. Legend influenced people as much as fact in the fifteenth century, and, from an early age, Joan was a devout child who stood apart from the crowd. The confirmation of her uniqueness came at the age of twelve, when she began to hear voices and see visions. The voices told her that she had a sacred mission from God to free France and to crown the king. Before she reached her seventeenth birthday, Joan responded to the urgings of her private voices and set out on a lonely road to persuade the future king of France that she could lead his armies to victory.

Paine provides a map for the reader to trace the path of Joan on her great campaigns; each separate journey is clearly marked from town to town. A list of principal characters gives the reader a good reference point for the many people that Joan met in her later life. Another aid to following this complex unfolding of events is the...

(The entire section is 510 words.)