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Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors
used to represent abstract ideas or concepts.
There is historical evidence that Robert E. Lee may have
suffered from heart trouble during the Battle of Gettysburg and
that he may even have had a mild heart attack. Shaara uses this
fact to develop a minor, but powerful theme: Lee’s heart has been
broken by the war. Longstreet at one point reminds Lee that when
they became officers in the United States army, they swore to defend
all of the United States. They have even led many of the Union soldiers.
Now, they are killing them. Lee has been forced to choose between
his beloved Virginia and his country, and to him that is no real
choice: his first duty is always to Virginia. But the decision has
left him heartbroken, and as the war drags on his heartbreak only
becomes worse. At one point in the novel, Lee tells Longstreet that
the true sadness of the career soldier is the obligation to order
men to their deaths. The war has taken a heavy toll on Lee, both
physically and mentally, and both are a part of the pain Lee constantly
feels in his chest.
Ace your assignments with our guide to The Killer Angels!