What theme can I write an essay about for the novel March?

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Another theme that you could write about for an essay on March is March's views on education. He relates, for example, the perspective of Miss Dav, who says that female education is almost nonexistent in the South. The education that does exist, she says, is "stultifying, oppressive, crippling" (62). Yet,...

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Another theme that you could write about for an essay on March is March's views on education. He relates, for example, the perspective of Miss Dav, who says that female education is almost nonexistent in the South. The education that does exist, she says, is "stultifying, oppressive, crippling" (62). Yet, March finds that some of the southerners have more grace than New Englanders, who are better educated.

In addition to commenting on education (or lack thereof) for women in the South, March also comments on the education of slaves. When he starts teaching former slaves, he finds several of them possess native intelligence and a high degree of self-education. For example, he finds that a former slave named Jesse has a natural capacity for math. He also finds that many of the former slaves are interested in geography, though it has been a taboo subject—one associated with escape routes. They have little knowledge of history. Your essay could concentrate on March's impressions of education in the South.

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One important theme is that of adhering to or rebelling against tradition. This is seen in March's preference for the spirituality found in nature over the traditional and, as he thought, stifling spirituality of the Church. In line with this theme, you might analyze March's motive(s) for enlisting when he has family responsibilities.

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Maybe you can write about how the setting affects the theme. The setting is both the time and the place of the action in a story. When a story takes place in the past, that will affect the theme. How do the historical events change things? What chances do they give the characters?
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I would suggest that the fact that March is a religious man would indicate that the theme of religion is likewise important and how it functions in a time of war. You will want to relate that to the inconsistencies of March's character and the ethical dilemmas that he faces, such as trying to hide the realities of war from his wife. But more importantly, what is the role of religion in a time of war? This would be an interesting question to consider through this novel.

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Given that John March is a chaplain in the Army during the time of the Civil War, several themes could be discussed through this lens.  One is the idea of war itself.  You could look at the death, destruction, and stress caused by war paralleled with March's insistence on hiding these realities from his wife (and possibly himself).

As a chaplain, March is a religious man, but he is considered unconventional.  You could look also look at this idea of "conventional vs unconventional" in the way that March is the one who brings a sense of peace and hope to the soldiers (esp. when they are hurt or dying), delivers sermons, and is looked to as a man of some wisdom and inner stability, and yet he struggles inwardly with his own sense of lust for a woman other than his wife, and the guilt that these feelings cause.

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