Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two

by Joseph Bruchac
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What is the central idea of chapter 20 of Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac?

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Code Talker is a novel written by Joseph Bruchac and first published in 2005. It follows the character of Ned Begay, a Navajo who works as a code talker during World War II.

Chapter 20 is called “Next Targets”. It is set in June 1944, and Ned Begay is part of “Operation Forager,” which aimed at reaching Japan by fighting Saipan, Tinian, Guam, and Peleliu. The central idea of chapter 20 is the true horror of war. This can be seen when the author lists the number of victims on both sides as part of this chapter. A big part of the content of this chapter is to do with the various battles and fights which Ned and his fellow soldiers had to engage in.

However, chapter 20 does not only focus on the horrors experienced by the American troops—it also describes the terror experienced by the Japanese population, who chose to jump to their deaths rather than risk being captured by the American soldiers. This shows how war is horrible for anyone involved in it, regardless on which side they are.

Some members of Ned’s group deal with this horror in a more humorous way. For example, Danny tries to make light of the situation by telling funny stories: he “always seemed to have a funny story to tell.” But nevertheless, the message that chapter 20 sends is very clear—war is gruesome and terrible. It costs a lot of lives and impacts massively on the soldiers fighting these fights, both physically and mentally.

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