Analyses of “Chickamauga” Analyzed
“Chickamauga” is short story by Ambrose Bierce that takes place in 1863 during the American Civil War. It is an anti-war narrative that also speaks to the evolution of humans in battle. A young child, the son of a veteran is the central character. Having grown up around war and being born of a soldier the child shows insensitivity to wounded men that few could understand. Not only insensitive to the setting, the child makes a game of the situation at hand. At the end of this short story, both the reader and the child are shown the true gravity of this tale.
On an apparent typical afternoon, in the setting of this story, a young child wanders from his home playing games. After being frighten by a rabbit the child takes a nap and wakes to what seems a dream, to the reader unfamiliar with the back drop of this story. In the goriest detail the child happens upon what he thinks are animals. Shortly after, it becomes evident these “animals” are retreating, wounded soldiers. Both desensitized and unaware of the seriousness of what he’s found, the soldiers become pawns in the child’s game. Ironically the child pretends to be a General leading his troops to battle. Eventually and unaware, the child followed by his “troops” find their way back to his home only to find it torched and his mother killed outside of it. Finally the reader is made aware that the child is both deaf and mute.
More than a century later, “Chickamauga” is still the subject of deep analysis. One such analysis was done by James Baltrum in “Bierce aboard the Beagle: Darwinian Discourse and Chickamauga.” (2009) Baltrum claims that “Chickamauga” is much more than “an allegorical progression from youthful innocence to adult experience or a socially conscious antiwar narrative” (227). It is a statement about both the good and bad effects of Darwin’s theory of evolution (Bierce 227). While Bierce is a supporter of Darwinism and thought of him highly he...
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