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MonkeyNotes-The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
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Major THEME

Lee’s Personality

His failing health and fear of death, his strategies, his attitude toward Stuart, his thoughts on duty, and his realist tendencies.

His Failing Health And Fear Of Death

"Lee felt a thump, a flutter in his chest. It was as if the heart was turning over. He put his hand there, passed one small breathless moment. It happened often: no pain, just a soft deep flutter." (p.76)

"The great cold message had come in the spring, and Lee carried it inside him every moment of every day and all through the nights--that endless, breathless, inconsolable alarm: there is not much time, beware, prepare." (p.74)

"He [Lee] rubbed the left arm. Must show no pain, no weakness here." Pain in the left arm is a symptom of heart attack.

"The guilt stayed with him, ineradicable, like the silent alarm in the fragile chest." (p.79)


"He said good morning to the beautiful gray horse...He thought: tonight we’ll all be together." Lee is alluding to the possibility that both he and his steed will be dead on the battlefield by the day’s end.

Lee said happily, "And how are you this morning, General?"

"Me?" Longstreet blinked. "I’m all right." He paused, cocked his head to one side, stared at the old man.

Lee said happily, "You must take care of yourself."

Longstreet was mystified. No one ever asked him how he felt. His health was legendary, he never tired.

Lee said diplomatically, "The Old Soldier’s illness is going around." (p.81)

Lee considers his mortality and wants to make sure there’ll be a good man to take his place when he’s gone, a worthy heir. Unlike aging Lee, Longstreet is the epitome of health. Lee then changes the subject to avoid the topic of death, which he is uncomfortable talking about. Lee cannot tell Longstreet that he is afraid of death, so he plays monkey tricks and talks about the cherries (like talking about how the weather is--making small talk because you are unable to say what you really think or feel).

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