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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Robert E. Lee - "Letter to his Son"

For obvious reasons, Robert E. Lee was an extremely important figurehead during the Civil War. He was the commanding general of the Confederate army, not only because of his rise through the military ranks, since he first began as a national officer, serving the United States, but also because of his intelligence and rich, prestigious background (Wilhelm, 382). Lee firmly believed in a country of unity and one that did not require force to withhold itself (Wilhelm, 382). At the start of secession, President Abraham Lincoln asked Captain Robert E. Lee to command his Union troops as Army General, but, due to his family heritage in Virginia, which was also talking of secession and would soon follow take part, he decided to take another offer in 1862from the state of Virginia to command the Army of Virginia (Wilhelm, 382). This decision led to much internal conflict with Lee, making him give up, in a sense, on what he cares to say and how official it sounds. His almost uncaring feelings make this letter fit into Realism because of the time period and the frank reality of which he speaks, like when he talks about the uselessness of trying to stop the impending war by saying, "...I can do nothing to hasten or retard it" (Lee, 385). He finds no difficulty in telling this to his son because even he would have had nothing to do to try to solve the problem, either. This letter also talks about the tremendous aching he felt over the splitting of the United States (Lee, 385). He could only watch as his beloved country fell into shambles right in front of his eyes. Realism, as I said, is obviously the main subset this work could bee put into. Naturalism has pretty much nothing to do with it because it does not evaluate or study people as a direct outcome of his ranting, and nor does it really evaluate the events of the past, although one could also argue that, by talking about the Constitution of the United States, he did mean for it to evaluate and ridicule the so called framers of the Constitution (Lee, 385). There are many topics to cover, but hardly any of them really are important in this piece, such as the Hero, religion, nature and partly human nature, in a way. Speaking absolutely, religion and nature had nothing to do with this letter. Government is really only mentioned, too, because Lee talks about how if a war were to errupt, the government would fail to prove a useless and laughable force (Lee, 385). The American Dream, however, did only appear in the form of an uncatchable dream. Lee has seen an America of peace and hopeful prosperity, and his Dream is for that beautiful America to show itself to the world (Lee, 385). The word choice he uses, however, has little effect on the overall message or meaning of the work because he is not trying to make a point or win over its reader. So, Lee was quite free to speak how he wished to speak, which happened to be in the common vernacular of the time.

Works Cited

Lee, Robert E. "Letter to his Son." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 385. Print.

Wilhelm, Jeffrey. "Meet Robert E. Lee (1807-1870)." Glencoe Literature. Ed. Jeffrey Wilhelm. American Literature ed. Colombus: McGraw-Hill, 2010. 382. Print.

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