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Edge of Honor Summary

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

In Gilbert Morris’s Edge of Honor, the protagonist, Quentin Laribee, a physician in his late twenties, practices surgery in New York City during the 1860’s. Quentin’s peers admire his medical skills. Colleague Les Simmons envies Quentin’s personal life and complains to friends that Quentin is unworthy of being engaged to Irene Chambers, whose father, Dr. Oscar Chambers, has designated Quentin as his successor to his flourishing New York City practice.

Quentin lives with his younger sister, Hannah, who is permanently lame because of an injury. After their parents died when they were teenagers, Quentin and Hannah raised their younger siblings. Because they endured many struggles and deprivations together, Quentin and Hannah loyally nurture each other. A pious woman, Hannah frequently reads her Bible and consults the Reverend Horace Pettigrew for spiritual advice. She dislikes Quentin’s fiancé, whom she considers a frivolous, manipulative woman who does not love Quentin but craves the affluent lifestyle and societal position he will assure her.

Unimpressed by wealth, Quentin does not comprehend why Irene wants him to wear fancier clothes, buy an expensive house, and dine with the elite of New York City. He prefers to devote his time to helping people who need medical assistance regardless of their financial status. Conscientious regarding his profession, Quentin dislikes other physicians’ aloofness to their patients, incompetence, and greed.

Quentin enlists in the Seventh New York Infantry during the American Civil War. Assigned to hospital duties, he befriends orderly Jim Peters, a former cook who tells Quentin about his plan to earn money raising pheasants and rabbits to sell to steamboat companies after the war. Quentin confides to Hannah that he believes God helps him, relating how he prayed during a soldier’s surgery, saving the man from an injury that other surgeons thought would be mortal.

After leaving the safety of New York for Fort Stedman at Richmond, Virginia, Quentin finds himself in the midst of combat when enemy troops attack. Half-blinded by dirt raised by an exploding shell, Quentin sees a Confederate soldier approaching and fatally shoots him, not realizing the man is surrendering. After he learns that the dead soldier’s name is William Breckenridge, Quentin arranges for his proper burial, believing that is the honorable thing to do. He keeps the man’s wallet and a letter from his wife, Eden.

Back in New York City, Quentin suffers overwhelming guilt about his role in William’s death and thinks about the soldier’s widow and children. He confides his turmoil about killing William to Hannah, who urges him to talk to the Reverend Pettigrew. Quentin’s agitation intensifies when he reads Eden’s letter, which reveals that she cannot pay the mortgage on the family farm. After talking to Pettigrew to discuss how he can compensate William’s survivors, Quentin prays and asks for God’s help. He experiences an epiphany that he should travel to Helena, Arkansas, where the Breckenridge family lives.

Arriving in Arkansas by riverboat, Quentin locates the Breckenridge farm, where he meets Eden; her father, Thomas York; and her three children, Prudence, Johnny, and Stuart. He tells Eden that a Virginia farmer asked him to tell her that her husband had been killed in battle and was buried on his farm. Quentin does not reveal personal information about himself or admit his responsibility for William’s death. After succumbing to illness, Quentin stays in the Breckenridges’ barn where Granny Spears, a healing woman, nurses him.

During Quentin’s recovery, the Breckenridge family accepts his offer to assist them with chores. He helps the family build pens and secure stock to raise high-quality food for steamboats, taking his cue from the postwar plans of his wartime comrade, Jim Peters. The family enjoys success at its new livelihood. Meanwhile, Quentin attends church and becomes acquainted with people in the...

(The entire section is 1,109 words.)