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Annotated Timeline Example

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Derek Pierce

on 7 February 2013

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Transcript of Annotated Timeline Example

Annotated Timeline The Coup de Grace The battle that had started earlier in the morning is now over and as the light fades, the dead are collected. "...the official report of the victorious commander, denoted rather a hope than a result" (1) shows the effort to reverse the true cost of battle by framing the outcome in a "positive" manner by increasing the amount of enemy soldiers killed. "...leaning against a tree...his attitude was that of weariness reposing...his mind was apparently not at rest" (1). Captain Madwell surveys the battlefield, noticing all the dead and dying. In "a shallow ravine, a mere depression of the ground, lay a small group of bodies" (2). Captain Madwell finds some soldiers still
alive. "In all his experience Captain Madwell had not seen a wound like this. He could neither conjecture how it was made..." (3). Captain Madwell realizes that Sergeant Halcrow
is mortally hurt but thankfully still alive; it is getting close to nightfall by this point and wild pigs are seen on the horizon eating fallen soldiers. Friends from Childhood
(back story) Downing Madwell and Caffal Halcrow spent their childhoods together. Caffal joined the Army even though he had no interest in the military. This devotion was difficult to maintain as one became an officer and the other remained an enlisted man. "I need hardly apprise you of the dangerous character of the movement, but if you wish, you can, I suppose, turn over the command to your first-lieutenant" (3). Captain Downing remembers being challenged during the middle of the battle by Major Creed Halcrow to push his unit ahead and hold ground until recalled and the tension mounts between the two. This is a clear indication of how heavy the burden of battle is for an officer. It begins to hint at the emotional toll that one will have to endure well after the last fighting has ended. This is the first connection in the story to the characters themselves, moving away from a simple examination of the visual and sensory experience of battle. For the first time there is hope as Downing begins to consider that perhaps his friend, Sergeant Halcrow may still be one of the surviving soldiers. But there is still uncertainty with the bodies so badly wounded and the light beginning to fade. The author seems to be making an effort to bring back some "light" to the story by giving the reader a reprieve from all the death and destruction. This is a "deadly insult" (3) and reveals that officers used such tactful methods to gain superiority or to diminish the character of those around them. Strangely, such use of civility is in dark contrast to the the many atrocious actions they were responsible in carrying out. While the soldiers are constantly facing life and death moments, for the first time we as readers are reminded of what is at stake here for Downing Madwell: his friend from childhood could very well die and it might not be peaceful or honorable. Even though he is an experienced officer, these wounds seem more traumatic and painful; so much so that he can not even "conjecture" (3) how they were made. War can still surprise and scare even the most war hardened of men. "...the dying man drew up his knees and at the same time threw his right arm across his breast and grasped the steel..tightly" (5). Captain Madwell painfully performs a coup de grace with his sword for his longtime friend, Caffal. This is the ultimate example of irony as it seems that Downing is causing his friend pain when in fact he is "saving" him from the agony of a slow death, or worse, being eaten alive by wild hogs scavenging the battlefield. As well, the bullet he used to put a suffering horse out of its misery was in fact his last bullet and one that would have been better used to quickly end his friend's life. In the last twist of fate we come to recognize how the actions of Downing will be perceived by Creede and that in war there is confusion, injustice, a guilt that will last a lifetime and perhaps one question: are those that die on the battlefield the lucky ones? "...three men stepped silently forward from behind the clump of young trees which had concealed their approach. Two were hospital attendants and carried a stretcher. The third was Major Creede Halcrow (5).
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