An Episode of War

by Stephen Crane

Start Free Trial


Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on August 27, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 253

The Lieutenant

The first character in "An Episode of War" is the lieutenant to whom readers are introduced at the beginning of the story. He is rationing out coffee to his soldiers when he is struck in the arm by a bullet. The soldiers around him express concern and direct him toward the field hospital. Crane's narration takes on a trance-like tone as the wounded lieutenant makes his way through the camp. He is witness to all kinds of soldierly actions, as well as further death and destruction. The lieutenant eventually gets to the hospital and has his wounded arm amputated.

The Officer

On the lieutenant's walk to the medical tent, there is one other character who stands out. The lieutenant is approached by other officers asking him questions to which the doesn't know the answer. One of the officers notices the wounded arm, and he is angered at how the initial dressing was put on. He redresses the wound with his own handkerchief and scolds the lieutenant the entire time. This causes in the lieutenant to be further embarrassed and feel that he doesn't even know how to be properly wounded.

The Doctor

The final character of significance is the doctor in the medical tent. This doctor embodies the sense of indifference that Crane's stories often convey. He is cordial toward the lieutenant until he sees the wound, which makes him angry. The doctor then leads the lieutenant away to "tend" to the wound, all the while falsely assuring him that amputation won't be necessary.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access