|KEY: Short Story Analysis of "The Drummer Boy of Shiloh"
Title: “The Drummer Boy of Shiloh”
Author: Ray Bradbury
Famous for writing science fiction, especially for the novel Fahrenheit 451.
Setting General Time: Civil War (1860- 1864)
Specific Time: April, begins at midnight and lasts for about 30 min. the night before a battle
General place: the South, Tennessee
Specific place: battle site, near the church at Shiloh, by Owl Creek
Protagonist: Joby, the drummer boy (we don’t know which side of the battle he is on)
Conflict Internal or external? Internal Man versus self
Antagonist: Joby’s fear of battle, his lack of belief that he will survive due to his feelings of disconnection, lonliness, unimportance, lack of purpose, etc.
Climax: when the general asks Joby if he will beat the drum the way he must in order to motivate the soldiers and lead them into battle, If he will truly be “the heart of the army”
Resolution: Joby accepts his new role in the battle with solemn dignity and courage, believeing that he is now connected to a “family” (the army), that he has an extremely important purpose, and that he will survive.
1. To face life’s crisises with courage and faith, everyone needs to feel connected to others, to feel pride in his/her purpose, and to believe that overcoming the problem is possible.
2. Appearances may be deceiving; often that which seems least important may actually be immeasurably valuable.
Find the following literary devices in this story:
Two examples of metaphor
1. “Similarly strewn steel bones of their rifles” (comparing the rifles to skeletons) p5
2. “its great lunar face” (comparing the shape and color of the drum skin to the moon) p5
3. enemy army “turning slow, basting themselves with the thought of what they would do when the time came” (comparing the soldiers turning over and over in their restless sleep as they dream of battle to something cooking over a fire on a spit turning over and over and basting or coating itself in sauces) p5
4. “a moth brushed his face, but it was a peach blossom” (comparing a moth and a blossom) p6
5. “soldiers put on their bravery with their caps” (comparing bravery or courage to an article of clothing p6
6. “There’s your cheek, fell right off the tree overhead” (comparing his fuzzy facial hair to peach fuzz ) p6
7. “bunch of wild horses on a loose rein” (comparing the wild, untrained soldiers to untamed horses) p7
8. “You are the heart of the army’ (comparing the army to one living human & Joby to a beating heart) p7
9. “they would sleep forever” (Comparing death to sleep) p7
10. “muted thunder” (comparing sound of drum to thunder) p8
Two examples of simile:
1. “…bayonets fixed like eternal lightning” (comparing the shiny, sharp knives on their guns to lightning shining in the moonlight since the guns were hidden in the grass and the moonlight could only detect the knives) p5
2. peach pit “struck once like panic” (comparing the startling sound of the pit hitting the drum to the panic the sound created in the boy’s imagination) p5
3. Soldiers’ whispering “was like a natural element” (comparing the combined whispering of all the soldiers to the sound of a great wind approaching p5
3. “this drum which was worse than a toy” (comparing drum’s effectiveness as a weapon to a toy) p6
4. “him lying small here, no more than a toy himself” (comparing the small boy to a toy) p6
5. “their knees would come up in a long line down over that hill, one knee after the other, like a wave on the ocean shore” (comparing their energetic, precision marching to waves crashing on the shore) p7
6. “waves rolling in like a well-ordered cavalry charge to the sand” (comparing march to wave) p7
7. “put steel armor on the men…blood moving fast… as if they’d put on steel” (comparing the adreline rush of their organized, energetic march to steel armor) p7
Two examples of personification:
1. “…bones of young harvested by the night and bindled around campfires” (giving the night the job of a farmer who gathers the men up in bunches like stalks of corn and places them around the fires) p.5
2. “sun might not show its face because of what was happening here” (giving the sun emotions-shame- and choice to shine or not) p7
Two examples of allusion:
1. all the places in the story which refer to the site and time of the battle because that was real
2. all the references to the type of guns
3. the reference to Mr. Longfellow because he was one of the most famous poets of that time period who wrote many poems about national events: “Listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere…”
See pages 814, 304, 307 in the literature text for more info.
Two examples of symbols:
1. shield = things the soldiers had to protect them in battle (family, patriotism, optimism, rifle) p 5-6
2. turning the drum over to the sky at the end = Joby’s change from a scared, lonely boy to a young soldier fortified with his own shield (contrast between opening and closing paragraphs on p 5 and 8