Study Guide

The Killer Angels Courage

By Michael Shaara

Courage

Without courage, there would've been no Battle of Gettysburg and no Killer Angels… everyone would've just freaked out and ran away.

But this book is about more than just sheer guts in battle; it's also about the courage of convictions. Sometimes courage can be in the service of a cause you might not agree with: there were lots of Confederates who were loyal to their friends and family, and who sacrificed their lives for them, even if issues like states' rights and slavery weren't a huge deal to them. But courage can also be in the service of ideals like freedom and opposition to slavery. Chamberlain, for example, fights for his ideals, and it's partly his loyalty to his ideals that makes him risk everything and order his famous bayonet charge on Little Round Top—a maneuver that some say gave the Union its victory at Gettysburg.

Questions About Courage

  1. Can you think of some examples of courage from the present day? How are they similar to or different from the examples of courage from the book?
  2. What are some good reasons to demonstrate courage, in the book and in life?
  3. What is courage? Try to define it.
  4. Are there moments in your life where you've needed to demonstrate courage? What were they?

Chew on This

"Courage is grace under pressure." – Ernest Hemingway

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it." – Nelson Mandela

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