What are the key notes to know in the short story "An Episode of War" by Stephen Crane?

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troutmiller eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This story begins with a Lieutenant rationing out coffee at his camp.  As he's doing this, a shot rings out and his men see that the Lieutenant has been shot in his arm. 

Sluggishly and in a dream-like state, the Lieutenant makes his way to the hospital.  On his way, he has several encounters with others.  At one point, an officer took his own handkerchief and helped cover up the Lieutenant's wound.  The Lieutenant didn't really know how to react to that.  He's never been wounded, but he fights with the proper etiquette of a wounded soldier.  Then as he makes it to the hospital, the surgeon takes him back to a tent.  Again, the Lieutenant doesn't know how to behave "like a wounded soldier" and he refuses to have his arm amputated.  The surgeon continues to lead him to the back and performs the surgery anyway. 

At the end, he once again faces his family not knowing how to behave as a wounded soldier would.  He is ashamed and represents all who must live with the results of what war creates.

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An Episode of War

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