My sons have compared me to the Dad in “A Diary of a Wimpy Kid” (Video Clip below) book & movie series because he is made fun of for his “enthusiasm” for Civil War toy soldiers and battle reenactments. Touche, I say. But my boys keep sharing interesting references to the war and its memory in young adult literature.
Most recently, my 6th grader shared with me a section from a novel he read called “The Giver.” The novel is all about memory. Set in the future, “The Giver” teaches a young boy how to feel by experiencing different memories. Here is a section that describes a Civil War battlefield scene in effort to teach pain:
“He was in a confused, noisy, foul smelling place. It was daylght, early morning, and the air was thick with smoke that hung, yellow and brown, above the ground. Around him, everywhere, far across the expanse of what seemed to be a field, lay groaning men… He turned his head toward the voice and looked into the half-closed eyes of a boy who seemed not much older than himself. Dirt streaked the boy’s face and his matted blond hair He lay sprawled, his gray uniform glistening with wet, fresh blood.”
Of course my son has the burden of having a teacher for a Dad and he thought he would just show me the section and leave it at that. I asked him why he thought the author used a Civil War battle to teach pain and suffering and not one, for example, from the Revolutionary War? He replied that it could be that it was such a bloody war for America. Why is the scene from the perspective of a wounded Confederate and not a Union soldier? Because the South lost and that it shows the pain of a lost cause dead on a field.
The author wrote the book after her father lost pieces of his memory and wondered what the world would be like if society forgot the feelings of “war, conflict and tried.” It is an interesting perspective to use with students on how the Civil War has been remembered and forgotten.