An Episode of War – Summary | Major English Grade XII

Stephen Crane

An Episode of War

‘An Episode of War’ written by Stephen Crane presents the bitter experience of a wounded lieutenant at the war front, barracks, and hospital. Crane hasn’t given a name to the lieutenant but used the generic name in order to show that war is a bitter experience not for an individual only but for all soldiers of any nationality, place and time.

While dividing the coffee powder, the Lieutenant was mysteriously shot on his right arm by a bullet. The fellowmen gazed at him with awe and some offered him help. But lieutenant did not accept their help. Soon all his fellowmen had to take their position in the battlefield, so he started walking alone towards the military hospital. On the way, he met some stragglers who did not care about his wound.

In the barrack, several officers came out to see him and started asking several questions. One of them noticed his wound, but without any right treatment or sympathy, he tied his wound with a handkerchief. He even scolded him. Lieutenant reached the hospital. He found that the hospital was mismanaged- the ambulances were stuck up in the mud and no one cared the wounded soldiers. He met a busy surgeon who behaved him in an indifferent manner. He talked to the lieutenant as if he was talking to a criminal, not to a brave soldier. Though the surgeon told that he would not amputate his hand, he found himself losing his arm. When he went to his home the family members started crying because they did not realize his bravery. Though he was a war hero, he felt ashamed.

Thus this story shows the gap between appearance and reality. War is glorified but soldiers are treated indifferently. A brave war hero is misbehaved wherever he goes. The wound sets the lieutenant apart from his fellow soldiers. He becomes disillusioned by the war while his fellow soldiers glorify war.

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