Study Guide

From Here to Eternity Duty

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The guys in From Here To Eternity are unyieldingly committed to duty, despite whatever fate throws at them. Prewitt won't hate the army, no matter how poorly and unfairly his superiors treat him. In fact, he continues to love the army with unswerving devotion. At the end, even though he's suffered a knife wound, he staggers back to his unit to help them resist the Japanese air force—getting shot in the process.

Warden's conception of his duty is pretty intense too. Even though he despises Captain Holmes, he continues to serve him—but he also starts to honor his duty to his men more, acting more kindly towards Prewitt.

Questions About Duty

  1. Where does duty come from in this movie? Is it assigned by other people, is it something that people determine for themselves, or is it a mixture of both? Explain.
  2. What different institutions (or individuals) delegate duty or demand it? (Yes, the army—but try to be more specific). How binding is that duty and in what occasions would it be okay to break it?
  3. Who fails to do their duty in this movie, and how? Think about Holmes, Judson, even Maggio, when giving your answer.

Chew on This

Prewitt and Warden become heroic because they remain true to their duty as soldiers. Captain Holmes, his sergeants, and Sgt. Judson become villainous because they fail that duty.

Holmes and Co. are villainous because they do stick to their sense of duty…it's just that their sense of duty is narrow and misplaced. Prewitt is embracing a higher kind of duty—the duty he feels towards his principles, his country, and himself.

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