Dr. Chuck Jackson
Ambrose Bierce’s Twisted Naturalist Short Story “Chickamauga”
The author of “Chickamauga,” Ambrose Bierce, created this short story as a naturalist visualization of the devastating effects that wars and battles had on the soldiers which fought in them. The short story “Chickamauga” is defined as naturalist literature because of the author’s employment of specific literary techniques which define naturalism, such as the way the author gradually darkens the mood of the storyline as it progresses, the amount of description and attention paid to grisly and macabre details that shed wars in a whole new light, as well as the unfolding nature of the main character as the story progresses.
In “Chickamauga”, Ambrose Bierce begins on a sunny afternoon in autumn, describing the sense of freedom, and in a sense, gaiety, felt by a descendant of a strong, proud, and conquering race quickly leads to the dark and troublesome events which are the natural fallout of wars anywhere, the casualties and destruction, both military and civilian (343). Originally this small boy is depicted as a conquering warrior, whose mighty sword has the ability to slay imaginary foes that leads him on a mighty chase both through the woods and across the creek. Until the proud victor turns to return from whence he came, only to find himself confronted by a much more corporeal foe than any he had fought, a rabbit sitting bolt-upright in the middle of the path back to the creek. He is so frightened by this animal that he turns and flees into the woods, losing direction in the brush.
The fear and shock of this once mighty warrior creates a shift in the mood of the story, transforming the conquering hero back into a lost, frightened child calling for his mother in the woods while he clutches his makeshift sword to soothe his nerves and drifts off to sleep (344). Awakening to the chill of night, still scared but no longer... [continues]
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