Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold, Jean Fritz traces the stormy life of General Benedict Arnold, remembered as one of the most brilliant soldiers of the Continental Army and reviled as a traitor to his country. Young Arnold, born into a prosperous Connecticut family, saw his comfortable world crumble in 1755, when his father lost his money and reputation in a series of shady business deals and descended into despair and drunkenness. In this difficult year, Arnold formed the attitudes that were to motivate him throughout his adult life: a need to be noticed and acclaimed as the best in whatever he attempted and a desire for money and all the luxuries that it could buy. The former attitude would lead him to fame, through his daring military feats, and the latter would lead him to infamy, through his betrayal of his country for money.

Having established the driving forces in Arnold’s character in the first chapter, Fritz devotes the next six chapters to a study of Arnold’s career prior to his treason. At the beginning of the revolutionary war, Arnold believed that a military career would bring him acclaim and money. The book traces Arnold’s steady rise in his military career and provides a map that shows the areas where Arnold established his military reputation. Fritz describes in detail the battles against General John Burgoyne’s army near Saratoga, New York, where Arnold’s defiance of General Horatio Gates’s orders led to a...

(The entire section is 462 words.)