Jonathans father will not sign papers that will allow Jonathan to Join the militia because he needs Jonathan to help on the farm. Jonathan wrongly interprets the fear he sees in his father’s eyes as cowardice. Readers know it is not cowardice that prevents his father from allowing his son to become a soldier. Rather, it is love for his son and the fear he could die that keeps Jonathans father from giving Jonathan permission to become a soldier. Additionally, Jonathans older brother Joined the Continental Army a year before the story takes place and has not been heard from since.
Jonathans parents are full of worry and sadness for his older brother and can’t bear to let Jonathan go. Jonathan is fearless and young enough to believe he is immortal. He’s not as tall as a man but he is lean and strong with dark hair and a fire inside to be part of the revolution. His father believes Jonathan is strong willed and has a bright future despite the war all around them. When Jonathan hears the bells in a neighboring town he knows it’s a call to arms and he wants to go help the fight. So, Jonathan lies to his parents and says he is going to see if he can find out any news of his missing rather.
This act may suggest Jonathan is an idealist who believes a positive end result will outweigh any deception he makes to get his way and achieve his goal. Consequently, Jonathan is captured by German mercenaries, called Hessians, during the battle and begins to change his mind about the glory and honor of fighting in a real and bloody war. The Corporal: The Corporal is a trained killer and he is great at his Job. Early in the story the Corporal is set up to be a shadowy, vicious character. The Corporal also recruits citizens to fight against the British. He has an angry face and smells unwashed.
In a town near Jonathans village not many men volunteer to Join the Corporal. So, when the Corporal spots an anxious Jonathan he tries hard to recruit him. The bar keeper in the town tavern warns Jonathan that there is something wicked about the Corporal and to be careful. The Corporal is older than Jonathan but younger than Jonathans father. The Corporal is hard on the men who did volunteer to march to Rockford where they will fight the British. Many in the group don’t trust the Corporal. He lied to his men about reinforcements coming to help the fight and he lied about the number of enemy oldie’s they would face.
Furthermore, the Corporal kills the parents of a child Jonathan finds during the battle. The Corporal Justifies the killing by saying the parents were “Tories” and must be executed for being traitors and supporting the British. The execution sparks a conflict between Jonathan and the Corporal. Upon Jonathans escape from the Hessians the Corporal orders Jonathan to go with the Corporal to search for the mercenaries that captured Jonathan so they can kill them. Jonathan is less than willing to participate because his mind is changing about war being glorified.
In the end the Corporal succeeds in killing the Hessians but is surprisingly understanding about Jonathans changed opinion of war. During the march back to Jonathans town the Corporal disappears as mysteriously as he appeared early in the story. His character represents the idea that even noble causes have a darker side where hard men must make life and death decisions. The Corporal is driven by action where Jonathan is driven by ideals. The Corporal’s character illustrates that noble causes need more than lofty ideas. To win a war you have to get dirty and that’s exactly what the Corporal makes clear to Jonathan.
List of Minor Characters The Tavern Keeper: When Jonathan arrives in the small town where the Corporal has been recruiting men he doesn’t have a musket. So, the Tavern Keeper lends Jonathan a musket. The Young Hessian Soldier: Jonathan is captured by three German mercenaries in the battle. The mercenaries are called Hessians. The youngest Hessian reminds Jonathan of his lost brother. The Tall Hessian Soldier: The tallest of the soldiers is mean and has huge ugly scar on his face. The Old Hessian Soldier: The oldest of the soldiers seems to be in charge and has a large, curly mustache. The Little Boy:
Jonathan finds an orphan boy near the farmhouse he and the Hessian soldiers spend the night. The boy speaks French but not much English. The Frenchman: The Frenchmen is one of the soldiers in the Corporal’s group. He can speak with the boy Jonathan rescued and the boy tells the Frenchmen that the Corporal killed his parents. Jonathans Father: Jonathans father will not allow Jonathan to Join the army. He was badly injured early in the war. Jonathans Mother: Jonathans mother is the anti-war voice in the story. She has already lost her oldest son to the war and fears losing Jonathan.
The Plot: Imagine your subdivision under attack by a foreign army. Furthermore, imagine seeing classmates and their parents’ dead bodies on the side of the road. That’s the reality of the American Revolutionary War. In contrast, Jonathan is a thirteen year old farm boy who doesn’t see it that way. He has an idealistic view of war and believes it will bring him glory. Jonathans older brother enlisted in the army and has been missing for nearly a year. His father severely injured his leg in the war and worries about losing both sons’ to the war.
As a result, Jonathans father will not give his remission for Jonathan to Join the army. The fear Jonathan sees in his father’s eyes he believes to be cowardice but it really is not. Jonathan is strong willed and decides to sneak off to a nearby town to Join the militia. He lies to his parents and says he is going to see if he can find information about his missing brother. A harsh man is organizing a group of soldiers and actively recruits Jonathan to Join the group. The tavern owner lends Jonathan a musket and warns Jonathan about the Corporal.
Jonathan ignores him because he is so excited that his dream of becoming a soldier is about to come true. For early April it is very hot and trudging through the heat Jonathan starts to realize the life of a soldier is not all glory. The Corporal pushes the group hard and Jonathan is exhausted by the time they reach the town where they plan to confront the enemy. When Jonathan hears the drums of the Hessians he is shocked to find out his group of thirteen will face thirty fierce mercenaries who seem to be giants compared to Jonathan. When the shooting begins the air is full of smoke and confusion.
Jonathan runs away from the fighting and sees one of his fellow soldiers dead and another badly injured. At this point, Jonathan begins to think he made the biggest mistake of his life. That’s about when he is captured by the three Hessians. Jonathan fears for his life because he is certain they will kill him. Communication between Jonathan and the Hessians is difficult because Jonathan doesn’t speak German and the Germans don’t speak English. The Hessians realize Jonathan is only a boy and not a threat to them. As a result, the Hessians have no plans to hurt Jonathan.
They find an abandoned farmhouse where they spend the night. Jonathan finds a little boy and the bodies of the boys parents. The little boy only speaks French. Therefore, the boy cannot answer Jonathans questions about who killed the parents. Jonathan believes the Hessians killed the boys parents. So, when the Hessians go to sleep Jonathan sneaks away with the orphan and reunites with the Americans. The Frenchmen fighting with the Americans learns from the orphan that the Corporal is the man who killed the boys parents. The killing of the parents is what prompted the Hessians to be dispatched to the town.
The Corporal insists Jonathan take him to the farmhouse where the Hessians are sleeping but Jonathan doesn’t want to because he wants to go home. Eventually, Jonathan shows the Corporal where the farmhouse is and sneaks in to plead with the Hessians to surrender. The Hessians decide to fight their way out and are gunned down by the Corporal and his men. Jonathans destruction of the borrowed musket is symbolic of his new view of war. He walks home to his loving parents and realizes the fear he saw in his father’s eyes was not cowardice at all.
Rather, it was fear for his son’s safety and not fear of fighting. Jonathan was thankful to be home and alive. The Climax: The Climax of The Fighting Ground is the suspenseful moment when Jonathan minds out from the Frenchmen that it was the Corporal who killed the orphan boys’ parents. Additionally, Jonathan finds out it is the death of the parents that causes the British to send the Hessians to investigate the killings. The Resolution: The resolution to The Fighting Ground is when Jonathan destroys the musket he borrowed from the Tavern Keeper.
In that moment Jonathan unleashes his anger at himself for believing war is glorified and he would become a hero. Jonathan resolves that war is horrible and he doesn’t want to be part of it anymore. Setting: The story of the Fighting Ground takes place in the countryside of New Jersey. The ear is 1778 and England and United States of America are at war. The main character, Jonathan, lives on a farm with his parents and siblings. The farm is not far from a tavern where the Tavern Keeper rings a bell when volunteers are needed to fight the enemy.
The area where Jonathan lives consists of thick woods and small towns. When the bells ring for volunteers Jonathan wonders if General Washington is going to recapture Trenton, New Jersey. Many of the towns around Jonathans home are controlled by the British and only a few are controlled by the rebels. The town called Rockford is controlled by the Americans and is the site of the Attlee between the Corporal’s men and the Hessians. Rockford is so small it only has six houses. When Jonathan is captured by the Hessians he is taken to an abandoned farm house.
It is also the house where the Hessians are killed. Themes: The Fighting Ground’s themes don’t address the morality of war. Rather, they explore the naiveté© of inexperienced soldiers. Jonathan glorifies war and his father fears it. As a result, the romanticism of war is a major theme in this story. Jonathan believes he will be honored for serving in battle. What he discovers is war is brutal. Another theme in this story is language barriers. When Jonathan is captured by the Hessian mercenaries he realizes they speak German and cannot speak English.
He wants to ask them about his comrades and appeal to their humanity to not kill him or the orphan. When Jonathan and the Hessians spot a man running through the woods they are all fearful of what will happen next. Jonathan fears for his life and the Hessians are scared its another attack by the Americans. However, Jonathan doesn’t know they are scared and mistakes their fear for aggression. Because of the language barrier Jonathan is forced to guess their intentions toward him and remains suspicious of them even though they have already decided not to harm Jonathan.
The language barrier also plays a part in the climax of the story because the orphan boy only speaks French he can’t communicate with Jonathan and let him know who killed his parents. It isn’t until Jonathan is reunited with the Corporal that the Frenchmen talks with the orphan and finds out it was the Corporal who killed the boys parents. March 22, 2013 The Corporal care of the New Jersey Militia Rockford, New Jersey Corporal, I am writing to you about the Hessians you killed when they tried to escape the abandoned farmhouse near Rockford, New Jersey in the wee hours of April 4, 1778.
I am a twelve year old boy and I question your need to kill the Hessians. I thought your ambush of the Hessians was cold. I know they were mercenaries fighting for the British but it’s my belief you could have taken them prisoner instead of killing them. Perhaps, you could have gathered valuable intelligence from them in an interrogation. Who knows what valuable information you could have gotten from them. They were actually kind to Jonathan but I’m not sure if you believed that or not. I’m curious too why you didn’t search for Jonathan when he disappeared during the battle with the Hessians?
After all, he was only a boy and shouldn’t have been there in the first place. I did misjudge you a bit. I was surprised at the gentleness you had for Jonathan when he realized he didn’t want to be a soldier anymore. I thought you would be angry with him. I commend you for not making fun of Jonathan or thinking he was a coward. I guess you have seen enough blood and guts to last several lifetimes. Perhaps, that’s why you were kind to him in the end. I know our country would never have won the Revolutionary War without men like oh.
I too have dreamed of the glory of war and being a great soldier like you. In fact, I really enjoy playing a video game called Call of Duty Black Ops. It glorifies war like Jonathan did. However, I’m starting to re-think my feelings about war because of this book. It’s easy to pretend fight in a video game but reading Jonathans story made me think what I would do in the same situation. I have no idea if I could have been as brave as you or Jonathan. I hope I would do the right thing. I have been taught to never start a fight but never walk away from one either. Thanks for serving our country, Jake Irma