“Private Peaceful” written by Michael Morpurgo: Summary and Analysis

1 January 2018

Courage and cowardice, these two words are featured on the cover of the heroic story, “Private Peaceful” written by Michael Morpurgo. Courage and cowardice are the themes explored in this essay. Throughout the story, bravery is contrasted with cowardice. Although two hugely different actions, they sometimes seem to merge into one in this story.

When we stop and think about courage and cowardice we are faced with a question; what do they really mean? In the dictionary, the meaning of courage is the power or the quality of dealing of facing danger, fear or pain with self-possession, confidence, and resolution. The meaning of cowardice is ignoble fear in the face of danger or pain. These two words have such different meanings that it’s hard to ever believe that one person could have these two characteristics.

The novel Private Peaceful is a deeply moving story of a young soldier who looks back over his childhood from the battlefields of the First World War to his memories of family life deep in the countryside. Morpurgo manages to convey the awful terror and ferocity of warfare, with such a great use of literature that he never needs to be too explicit in his writing when he describes the carnage of being on the front line. But still you understand exactly what it was like to have been there and at times you can almost feel as though you really are back in The First World War.

One character that I feel always shows great courage, confidence and composure is Mrs. Peaceful. Whatever she is faced with she overcomes with confidence and never falters at any of the hurdles she is faced with. She shows great courage when Charlie steals the cornels dog that he was going to shoot and the cornel comes around to their house asking for the dog back. Mrs. Peaceful calmly ask seeing as the cornel no longer wanted the dog, if it would be okay if she paid him for it, the cornel is shocked by her confidence and courage as she speaks to him.

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