Rifles for Watie

by Harold Keith

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How does the character Sparrow die in "Rifles for Watie"?

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Sparrow, the camp chef, is murdered by Captain Clardy, Jeff's antagonist in the story. Clardy is a cruel, sadistic bully, so his killing of Sparrow should come as no surprise. Sparrow had known Clardy much longer than Jeff, and knew a terrible secret about him: that he's a murderer who once beat a woman to death. Jeff knows just how dangerous and vindictive Clardy is, so he figures it's best to keep this information under his hat for the time being.

Unfortunately, he blurts it out to Clardy during a subsequent battle in a fit of rage, angry that the Captain's pulled him from the front line. Clardy knows that Sparrow must have given Jeff this information. He cynically uses the fog and confusion of battle as a cover for settling scores. Clardy thinks he can get away with murder, because Sparrow's death won't be considered in any way suspicious; it'll just be assumed that he died in battle like so many others. But Jeff's not fooled; he knows full well that Sparrow was murdered, and that Clardy's responsible.

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