Student Question

Why does Raina help the soldier in Arms and the Man?

Quick answer:

Raina helps the soldier because she is genuinely concerned about the suffering and bloodshed caused by the battle from which he has escaped. She also realizes that Bluntschli is nothing more than a “chocolate cream soldier,” so it would be cruel to hand him over to the authorities.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Raina's immediate reaction to the Bulgarian victory over Serb forces at the Battle of Slivnitza is one of nationalistic rapture. She positively revels in this great national triumph in which her fiancé, Sergius, has played such an important part.

Even so, Raina expresses extreme disquiet about reports of Bulgarian forces hunting down Serbian fugitives. She may be a proud Bulgarian, but that doesn't mean that she's lost her sense of humanity, as many people do in moments of nationalistic triumph.

Raina's humanity is much in evidence when she gives sanctuary to one of these fugitives, a Swiss mercenary by the name of Captain Bluntschli, who'd been fighting for the Serbs. When Bulgarian and Russian troops enter Raina's house looking for Bluntschli, Raina hides him, thus sparing him from almost certain death. Later on, she and her mother manage to spirit Bluntschli out of the house.

Raina helps the hapless Swiss mercenary for a number of reasons. First and foremost, and as we've already seen, Raina does not approve of the victorious Bulgarian troops hunting down Serbian fugitives and their allies after the battle has already been won. As Raina tells her mother:

I wish our people were not so cruel. What glory is there in killing wretched fugitives?

Secondly, Raina realizes, from her conversation with Bluntschli, that he is a “chocolate cream soldier,” a poor soldier who isn't really cut out for the rigors of army life. That being the case, it would be cruel in the extreme to hand him over to the Bulgarians. And if there's one thing we already know about Raina at this early stage in the play, it's that she's most certainly not cruel.

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
Approved by eNotes Editorial