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The Killer Angels

  • Study Guide
Main Ideas

Themes

Main Ideas Themes

Chamberlain suffers from a form of internal division, but it is fairly clear that his cause is not the expressed cause of the Union. The Union’s leaders, including Lincoln, never claimed to be fighting a war of liberation: they fought because they believed the Southern states were forbidden to secede. But Chamberlain fights for liberation, though most officers, such as Kilrain, do not. Kilrain, in fact, fights primarily to prove he is a brave man and perhaps also to bring down what he sees as overly aristocratic Southerners. But the most explicit symbol of this theme is the friendship between Lew Armistead and Winfield Hancock. Good friends that took different sides in the war, the two men participate in the same battle for the first and last time at Gettysburg. Throughout the novel, Armistead’s sundered friendship with Hancock serves as a reminder of the hard lines that the Civil War drew between Americans.