Hersey's Idealization of the American Soldier

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Natalie Saaris | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Major Victor Joppolo is the ideal American soldier, one who aspires to help the Italian people living under American occupation. His first order of business is to establish communication with the townspeople and inquire as to what their greatest needs might be. He makes great efforts to satisfy both needs, and in the end he commissions a new bell that results in his heroic status among the townspeople. Joppolo puts the people under his control ahead of his own status and sacrifices his own power for their well-being. Though he is put in an authoritative position, his primarily interest is in creating a democratic way of life in the town. 

While it may seem that Hersey is idealizing the American soldier, it is important to remember that Captain Marvin acts as a foil to Major Joppolo: he cares nothing for the Italian people and instead concerns himself with his own status and power. Hersey complicates the idea of the idealized American Soldier by creating another character who embodies evil.

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