Soldier's Heart Character Analysis

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To have a soldier’s heart is the same thing as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is the term used when someone fails to recover after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying event. In the book Soldier’s Heart by Gary Paulsen, the protagonist, Charley fights in the Civil War. Charley develops from a young boy looking for adventure to a young man with a soldier’s heart.

Charley starts off as a boy seeking adventure. Charley is only fifteen years old, but wants to join the Civil War. He even lies about his age to sign up. While Charley and his unit is leaving Minnesota to fight in the war, Charley thinks, “It was, all in all, a simply grand way to go off to fight a war,” (Paulsen, 13) because his unit gets waved at by pretty girls,
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During his first battle Charley sees everyone around him dying, two bullets collide right in front of his face, a cannon ball taking off a man’s head and then going through an officer’s horse. After the battle, Charley finds that blood from dead bodies has tinted a nearby river pink. Charley even wet his pants in terror the second time he went to fight the Confederates. During his third battle, Charley runs at the Confederates, yelling for them all to die. After the battle Charley finds that his friend has been shot in the stomach, so Nelson asks Charley help him kill himself. This all proves that Charley faced many horrors during his time of service.

The war gives Charley a soldier’s heart. He shows this by not hesitating when he is told to kill, and, in close combat, he turns into a madman killing everything in range of his bayonet. He even builds a wall made entirely out of dead soldiers, just to block wind. He does not try to find a wife and build a family when he is twenty-one because of all he has seen, done and, experienced in the war. That proves that the war has changed Charley.

Throughout the book Soldier’s Heart, Charley changes from a young boy seeking for adventure to a young man with a soldier’s heart. Charley starts out excited to go to war because slogans and other war advertisements made the war sound fun. But war is not fun, it is full of death and loss. The war changes Charley and steals his
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