Armed with Courage Critical Essays

May McNeer, Lynd Ward


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

McNeer and Ward leave readers to make their own connections between the biographies, as there are no introductions or conclusions to the book itself or the various sketches. The title implies that the seven individuals who are featured are united by both physical and spiritual courage. Nightingale disgraced her family by entering what was considered a demeaning occupation, and Father Damien bravely shared his food and pipe with the lepers with whom he lived. Carver did not let college rejections based on his race daunt his thirst for knowledge. Addams never shrank from visiting slums, and nothing discouraged Grenfell as he imported more doctors into his hospital and opposed the “trucking” system with his cooperative stores. Gandhi did not fear prison terms resulting from his nonviolent resistance to unjust laws, and Schweitzer did not budge from his hospital during World War II despite the fighting going on around him. Indeed, these seven heroes had courage.

Compassion, however, actually emerges as a more pronounced trait uniting the seven. Young Nightingale would give up parties or miss a lesson to care for farmers’ sick children, Father Damien refused to build a hut for himself until each of the lepers had one, and Carver traveled in a wagon to visit the poor farmers who could not come to Tuskegee. Addams started art classes and hung fine art in Hull-House so that immigrants could know art once more, and as a medical student, Grenfell gathered groups of boys from the slums and took them on camping trips to the...

(The entire section is 627 words.)