Description of the characterization of John March in the novel, March.

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

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March is a fairly complex character in Brooks' novel.  On one hand, he authentically believes in convictions.  He believes that slavery is wrong and is worthy of condemnation.  He does this in several instances, whether it is critiquing slavery, teaching reading and writing to a slave, or speaking out for the plight of the voiceless at the hands of the powerful, March believes in what he speaks and is an idealist.  At the same time, March is unable to fully reconcile the passion of his professional stance with his domestic life.  He keeps a distance from his wife, refusing to detail to her the condition of war and some of the horrific reality he witnesses.  He is afraid of what her thoughts will be at learning about the relationship between he and Grace, and coneals this from her.  It seems that one of March's fundamental disconnects is how he is able to demonstrate a sense of passion and intensity in his professional realm.  Yet, there is a noticeable restraint and distance in his personal realm.  In this, Brooks might be pointing out the fundamental difficulty in embracing idealism, for it is all encompassing and demonstrative in both public and private realms.  This is where March struggles to find some level of convergence between both realms as a character.  To a certain extent, his love in Brown reflects this.  He believes in Brown's cause and his zeal, but it is undermined by his losing of March's money.  This helps to create a sense of disconnect about Brown, the embodiment in idealism in March, a character who struggles with idealism.

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