This study guide will help you analyze the text “Chickamauga” by Ambrose Bierce. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, themes and perspectives.
Presentation of the text
Author: Ambrose Bierce
Date of Publication: 1891
Genre: Short Story
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) was an American journalist, short story writer, and editorialist. The short story “Chickamauga” explores the theme of war, which is common to Bierce’s writing, who uses a very descriptive language. Bierce was involved in the American Civil War as a Unionist, so the short story “Chickamauga” is well-documented from his experience.
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Symbol: the sword
The boy’s sword is an important symbol in the story, and it enhances the theme of reality versus fiction. The sword was built by the boy after he has found inspiration in his father’s books about war. The sword is, at the same time, a symbol of childhood and a symbol of maturity. When the boy sleeps in the forest, the sword is also a weapon and a “companion”, a symbol of protection. He prefers to imagine that wounded soldiers dirty with blood are clowns and that he can treat them like circus freaks. He climbs one wounded soldier in a game of make-believe, wishing to ride him just like he was allowed to ride the ‘negro’ slaves in his plantation. The boy also imagines the wounded soldiers to be his army, and he sees himself as their leader, marching towards victory. The irony is that the entire fantasy world collapses once the boy realizes that his home is on fire.