Stonewall Essay - Critical Essays

Jean Fritz


Stonewall presents a portrait of Jackson for different reading and comprehension levels. On the one hand, the biography is a straightforward narrative of the life of Jackson, from his birth to his death only thirty-nine years later. The narrative is spiced with anecdotes and descriptions that help to explain who Jackson was and to humanize a man who became a legend in his own lifetime. If the book is viewed as merely a simple narrative, then the reader can enjoy the life of Jackson as a simple progression from birth to death. On the other hand, the biography offers enough insight into the complexity of Jackson’s character to challenge the reader to think critically about this figure. The reader is also stimulated to conduct further research in the other works that are suggested in the appended bibliography. It is this second level of presentation that makes Stonewall an outstanding biography from which young readers may learn.

Virtually all biographies of Jackson tend to focus on the adult Confederate general, merely listing as an aside the eccentricities that made Jackson so different from his peers. Fritz begins by offering to the reader factors that might have influenced Jackson. Yet she does not analyze for the reader; she simply intimates. The death of his parents was significant, to be sure, but so too was the financial embarrassment left by his financially unregimented father. Cummins Jackson certainly assisted Tom, but the...

(The entire section is 579 words.)