Stonewall Critical Context - Essay

Jean Fritz

Critical Context

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

The writings of Fritz are known for their readability and historicity. In 1979, she was awarded the Washington Post/Children’s Book Guild Nonfiction Award for her “total body of creative writing.” In 1986, she was awarded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal. Stonewall was a School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, an American Library Association Notable Book, and a Boston Globe/Horn Book Nonfiction Honor Book. Stonewall received these awards because Fritz held true to her own rigid set of rules: No adulation or fictionalization was permitted to compromise meticulous research and the human aspects of the subject.

Jackson is one of the most fascinating soldiers about whom a biography could be written. Eccentric to the point of being bizarre, Jackson—before, during, and after a battle—was exasperating, yet exhilarating. Had it not been for the Civil War, Jackson would probably have been an insignificant, dull college professor. Instead, the Civil War made this odd individual into a hero, in both the North and the South. Fritz’s intention was neither to eulogize nor to demythologize Jackson. It was her purpose to stimulate critical, yet reflective, thought about one of the United States’ great heroes. Moreover, she integrates the life of Jackson into his historical period with great care, making sure that he was only a player in the scene rather than an entity unto himself. For Fritz, it was the Civil War that was the great tragedy, and not the death of Jackson at Chancellorsville.