The Killer Angels | Study Guide

Michael Shaara

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The Killer Angels | Part 4, Chapter 1 : Friday, July 3, 1863 (Chamberlain) | Summary



Chamberlain looks down at the battlefield early Friday morning from a tree atop Little Round Top. He hears cannon fire from the north. Desperate for sleep, in pain, and hungry, he has no supplies to give his men, and yet he remembers the battle the day before with pride and anticipates the coming fight eagerly. He is surprised to receive a message from Rice that he and his men are relieved of their position. Instead they will be going to the "safest place on the battlefield ... the center of the line." The messenger says it is "very quiet there."


By organizing the chapter from Chamberlain's perspective directly after the chapter from Lee's perspective, the author creates irony and suspense. Readers, unlike Chamberlain, know Lee's battle plans for the day. The words of the messenger to Chamberlain create dramatic irony, which means that readers know something the characters do not. What Chamberlain is told will be the "safest place on the battlefield" for tired, hungry, depleted soldiers from Maine will soon become the target of all the force the Confederates can bring to bear. Readers are left in suspense as Chamberlain remains blissfully unaware. If all goes to plan, the attack down the center, concentrating on Cemetery Ridge, will soon follow. It will be anything but "very quiet" for Chamberlain and his men.

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