Study Guide

The Killer Angels Mortality

By Michael Shaara

Mortality

The Killer Angels is about war, and war involves a lot of death. This isn't a Nerf War—the Civil War involved real bullets and bayonets, which have a known tendency to actually kill people. Being surrounded by death, the soldiers all have a lot of reasons to think about it—and they arrive at different opinions. General Lee is a Christian who expects to enter the presence of God in the afterlife, whereas Kilrain is skeptical and believes humans are just "animal meat"—for him, when you're dead, you're dead. Joshua Chamberlain is somewhere in the middle—he's a Christian who believes in heaven, but he's also susceptible to doubts. When Kilrain dies, in fact, he feels momentarily convinced that Kilrain is dead for good and that's that.

Hey, we never said this book was gonna be full of cheery topics… but at least we're getting war and death out of the way first?

Questions About Mortality

  1. Whose views on death do you agree with the most? Lee's? Kilrain's? Chamberlain's?
  2. Are there any causes you'd personally be willing to sacrifice your life for?
  3. Are there things that are worse than death? For example, would it be worse to desert your regiment than to die in battle?
  4. Do you think it's possible to overcome the fear of death? Or is death always scary?

Chew on This

Dying for a great cause is noble.

It's better to keep your skin under any circumstances.

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