What do you think is the potiential outcome of the lieutenant's injury in "An Episode of War?"

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The ending of the story helps to deliver insight into the potential outcome of the lieutenant's injury.  The lieutenant's wife, sister, and mother weep at the sight of his deformity.  He does not know how to respond to this.  The lieutenant's difficulty in formulating a reaction is reflective of the outcome of his injury.   His injury will be one that will transform his being.  He will never be the same as he was on that morning he was rationing out coffee for his troops.  Yet, while the injury is life altering, it is merely "an episode of war."  Crane's ending is one in which the brutality of war and its effects on the individual soldier are seen in the larger and more general scope.  Through this, one recognizes that all suffering and pain in war are merely "episodes" of it.  While what the soldier endures is traumatic to them, it is a part of a larger narrative.  

In this case, the outcome of the lieutenant's injury is going to be painful for him, yet one that cannot receive its due voice and authentication for war is more general and others "had it worse."  The outcome for the lieutenant will be a difficulty in appropriating the true nature of his injury, a silencing of voice in his predicament.  Perhaps, it is here in which he is still unable to determine how he should act, a foreshadowing of the outcome of his injury.  One can see the stress from a traumatic incident evident, but one in which its true nature will never fully be ascertained or understood.

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An Episode of War

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