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MonkeyNotes-The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
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Major Themes

Slavery

Slavery: The black man, Kilrain’s thoughts on the divine spark, and Tom’s discovery that the South is fighting over rights

The black man

Slavery is discussed in depth by Chamberlain and Kilrain. (p.176)

"Chamberlain’s curiosity was natural and friendly, but there was a reserve in it, an unexpected caution...Chamberlain felt an oddness, a crawly hesitation, not wanting to touch him. He shook his head, amazed at himself...A flutter of unmistakable revulsion...A matter of thin skin. A matter of color. The reaction was instinctive. Any alien thing." (p.169) Human Nature(Xenophobia)

"The black man...he was truly what it was all about...Seen in the flesh, the cause of the war was brutally clear." (p.171) Motives for fighting

" ‘You cannot judge a race. Any man who judges by the group is a peawit.’ " (p.176)

Kilrain’s thoughts on the Divine Spark

Kilrain and Chamberlain argue over the existence of a Divine Spark. (p.178)

"[Longstreet,] You’re an idealist...you believe in mankind....whereas when you’ve got my great experience of the world you will have learned that good men are rare...The truth is, Colonel, that there is no divine spark, bless you. There’s many a man alive no more value than a dead dog. What I’m fighting for is the right to prove I’m a better man than many....I’ll be treated as I deserve, not as my father deserved. I’m Kilrain, and I God damn all gentlemen. All that lovely, plumed, stinking chivalry. The people who look at you like a piece of filth, a coach-roach.’ " (p.179)


Minor Themes

Challenge:

"He [Chamberlain] had his call." (p.166)

Soldiers’ Past Experiences:

"He had dreamed of...his wife." (p.166)

Union vs. Confederacy:

"Heat and Spanish moss. Strange hot land of courtly manners and sudden violence, elegance and anger." (p.167)

Idealism vs. Realism:

"He wanted time to think. But the 83 rd Pennsylvania was up and forming." (p.171)

Civilians:

"A fat woman in a bonnet...waved slowly, silently. A sergeant apologized for marching through her farm." (p.174) The civilians aren’t sure how to react to the destructive army hordes.

Management:

"A courier arrived with a message from Meade to read to the troops...When he came to the part about men who failed to do their duty being punished by instant death, it embarrassed him...No time to threaten a man." (p.175)

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