How does what the lieutenant doing when he is injured reflect the Naturalist idea that people are victims of chance?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the moment of the lieutenant's injury, he is not developing intricate battle plans.  He is not mapping out enemy strategy.  He is not engaging in political calculations that will impact millions in the deliverance of war victory.  He is rationing out coffee.  It is a very pedestrian act.  It is almost insignificantly simple.  Yet, it is at this point where he suffers his life altering injury.  Crane uses this detail to reflect the Naturalist condition that he believes is applicable to human consciousness.  The most intense of life altering realities take place amongst the mundane.  There is no profound and Classical conception of the individual.  Rather, daily life places ordinary people in the most extraordinary of circumstances.  

From dividing out ration squares of coffee, the lieutenant goes to witnessing and experiencing the life cycle of death,survival, and remorse.  The Naturalist thinker like Crane believes that individuals living everyday and banal lives are capable of experiencing the widest array of the human experience.  It is here in which Crane's depiction of what the lieutenant is doing when he is injured acquires significance from a Naturalist point of view.

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An Episode of War

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