Soldier's Heart is a historical novella written by Gary Paulsen. The novella tells the story of a 15 year old boy, named Charley Goddard, who lied about his age to join the First Minesota Volunteer, which is under Union control, to fight the Confederacy in south. The time period is set in 1861 which is the time when the American Civil War started. The story take the reader through the Charley's perspective about the reality of Civil War, including the brutality of war and the hardship of soldiers in combat. At the end of the book, the author tells about Charley's life after war, and the trauma left on Charley by the war.
The story start when 15-years-old Charley Goddard decided to join the Union army to fight the Confederacy. Charley, at that time, had no idea what a war look like and decided to fight in order to understand it. Charley later convince his mother, who also had no idea what a war look like, to let him join the army. Charley than lied about his age to the admission and get enlisted into the First Minesota Volunteer.
|Battle of Bull Run|
Later, the story take the readers to the daily life of Charley in the army. In the letters Charley wrote to his mother, he claim that the army are boring and the food weren't very good. Charley also mention about the inexperience officers that was elected by the men. Charley than told his mother about the war. Charley and his men were all claiming that the war will be easy, and the south will surrender way before they see some action.
While Charley was on the way to their new camping place, Charley's mother start to think about war and the consequence of war. She wrote to Charley about the consequences of war, but Chaley ingored. While on the way to their new location, Charley and his men were welcomed and cheered by peoples. They were treated as heros. When Charley and his regiment were changing train in order to keep going, Charley met a black slave who give him a piece of cake and thank Charley for what they are doing.
Later on, Charley had his first taste of war in the Battle of Bull Run, which Charley found out suddenly the reality of war and the violence and death in it. The Union lost the battle, and Charley witnessed the death of thousands of soldiers and wish all would stop.
|First Minnesota Monument in |
The author, Gary Paulsen, stated that all of events in the book are true, including walls made of dead bodies in order to stop the wind. Charley Goddard is a real life character. Charley did lied about his age and join the First Minesota Volunteer. Charley did not fight in the Battle of Bull Run, but except for that Charley has fought every battles that was mention in the book. Charley, however, wasn't wounded in Gettysburg. He is also not one of the 47 men in the First Minesota Volunteer that survive after Gettysburg, for he had dysentery at was in the hospital. Charley later return home but died at the age of twenty-three because of his wartime trauma and wounds he recieved in war.