The Thin Red Line Essay Research Paper

The Thin Red Line Essay, Research Paper

Stephanie Smirnoff

per.1 Eng.3


The Thin Red Line

During the blood-stained war of the novel The Thin Red

Line a theme is presented, “Only the courageous and

emotionally strong-willed survive.” Throughout the

storyline, the army of men parading through Guadalcanal are

bombarded with unpredictable situations and odds. Only the

men with courage at their backs and their heads screwed on

straight can get through this chaos. The timid, scared

stiff ones will not get out alive, but the ones who swallow

their nerves can survive. Several men display these

qualities of bravery such as: Private Jon Bell, Captain

James Stein, and Corporal Fife. Their heroic

characteristics and deeds what saved the men overall,

disobeying their sergeant included. They did what they

needed to do to keep as many people alive as possible. The

ones who are left standing were the ones who kept their

cool. The men discovered what was “the thin red line”

between the living and the dead, the crazy and the sane, how

to live another day.

Towards the beginning of the story this theme has been

portrayed through the minds of many soldiers. These men

know that half of them are going to die in the field of

battle . Slowly the soaking in of this eats away at the

souls of the men. They each become more and more nervous

and awaiting their time to attack. “Only the strong

survive…” “…Why showed I be afraid to die?” Corporal

Fife says this before his trip into the jungle . With a

good attitude and acceptance of the future his will power

drives him forth to fight amazingly. He watches others as

they cry out and can’t take anymore. The ones who buckle

under the pressure and can’t find their way die. Giving up

on himself is the worst he could have done in his situation.

He runs ahead of all the men to see what he can do to break

down enemy lines. As he hurdles into open fire he does not

freeze up he presses himself on and on.

In the middle of the novel, a great role of sacrifice

and cunning is played. Captain James Stein shows a major

amount of intelligence and persistence as he refuses orders

from his superiors. “I will not drive my men to suicide,”

he retires and pulls out of command. His decision to

disobey orders makes him risk his job and life to save his

men. His emotional stability adds comfort to those around

him making easier times. He tries dreadfully hard to keep

everyone together to pull through to destroy the enemy

bunker. He uses all he’s got with low water supplies and

eyes shutting from exhaustion. Even when he’s dismissed he

remains close to his army “as they are my sons”. He carries

them with him always. His fearlessness and encouragement

will live on in all of the men, even in his absence.

As the war stretches on, the men stretch on, so does

their need for stability and strength, emotionally and

physically. “Who lit this flame in us, the war can put it

out…” “…I was a prisoner, but it set me free,” Private

John cries out. He displays his time of glory and truth as

he runs ahead. He peeks through the tall grasses, and is

the first, on his own, to see the enemy bunker. His thirst

for victory drives him to lead men in beating down the enemy

lines. If he had not kept calm and instead had allowed his

emotions to get the better of him through the field of death

they wouldn’t have conquered the Japanese. Fight or be

beaten down, “don’t lose what’s the good in us, touch the

glory…” His courage was admired even by his superiors.

What he did took great self-confidence and will power.

In conclusion, the expression of loyalty to country and

strong hearts is continued in each page. In the theme “only

the courageous and emotionally strong-willed survive” true

bravery is defined. Each surviving man’s composure and guts

lives through them especially at the hardest times. To

exist is to suffer.


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