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Private Peaceful Bravery Cowardice

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1753 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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In ‘Private Peaceful’, bravery is often contrasted with cowardice. Discuss how this theme is explored.

Michael Morpurgo, the children’s laureate, text his book “Private Peaceful” in a way that is interesting for teenagers and few of the adults but might be a horrified to his child readers under thirteen or fifteen of age. As to the long novels, “Private Peaceful” is an exception. It’s no longer but not shorter as well and children are openly recommended to read the book from teachers. The story “Private Peaceful” describes the horrifying, shocking and memorable life spent during world war one. It is a poignant story of a poor family who survive at time of world war one, explaining emotionally by one of its character, Thomas Peaceful. It is the story of Peaceful family, who were not only poor but the head of family, the father died; leaving the mother to serve 3 kids. The three kids were all boys from which one was handicapped and the other two go to schools. The story was told by the hero himself as in remembrance of his life and its hard reality. However it’s an interesting assertion set against the background of World War One but it bundles the emotions and feelings of the reality course through by a poor family. It emphasizes on the cowardice and bravery of a child. A child who has his own feelings which he doesn’t feels comfort to share with any other. He lives his life in a guilt that beyond the death of his father the only reason was he himself, i.e., Thomas Peaceful who was nicked as Tommy in the book.

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Cowardice is not actually to get weak in a particular thing or to lack in it but it’s a depressing mental feel or it can be said as the status of mind which tends to think that one is none other than a looser. Children, we see in our daily life feels many times as cowardice but this is all parents, teachers and elders who can sustain their mind positively. Children mind is very low at taking decisions. They mould their thoughts with the thoughts of their ideal personalities and do as they think. Cowardice is not and never counted as a positive act however it’s totally a negative emotion which can take the person to the edge of death. In many newspapers, mostly on every day basis, we read a suicide committed articles or news, done by the very young kids of age sixteen to nineteen. There was once a sixteen year old girl who committed suicide because she wasn’t gains her love and emotionally lost are thinking power. It’s not only the suicides but many kid show their cowardice by not participating on sports day or in any other curricular activity offered by schools. Sometimes it also happens that children looses their interest in studies and avoids them in a manner of getting determined not to go to school. It also happens that children due to only one scolding from teacher among the class starts hating the school that they have the guilt of insult in them which they can’t tolerate and stop going to the same school or in same group of children.

However, the total opposite factor of cowardice is bravery. Bravery is not in the meaning to get bold and run out to shoot or fight among the bad street boys or in other battles. But, it is the name to face the difficulties of life positively by using brain. This can only be done if and only if a person holds his mental thoughts stronger than one owns emotions such that emotions can never overcome his thoughts. At the young age, mostly children take their decisions more emotionally rather than mentally. To maintain these, elders and parents around the child always needs to encourage, show them with the true facts of life and especially help them by guiding how to face different challenges coming up in life day by day. The very simple example of getting annoyed and feel insulted at the age of thirteen don’t make sense but thirteen year old pupils use to feel it a lot. They have their self respect and they want their parents and teachers to sustain them by respecting and loving them rather insulting or scolding them in front of others. Parents and teacher should make them understand that scolding them is not to insult them but to make them act practically and face the hard times given by the world in all life. Leaving things with the fear of guilt, insult or at the thought that people will laugh is not a successful way to reach the goals and attain the aims set for the life. Rather than avoiding the school, a student should bravely go back and assures the teacher that actions for which he was scold will not be done again and feel arrogant among the students showing that, that scolding wasn’t an insult but an alert or a help guide to live a better life and make self suitable to face the world practically. Michael Morpurgo, in his book “Private Peaceful” contrasts the difference in bravery and cowardice using very simple and fluent English.

Michael Morpurgo, wrote the story at a child mind level explaining the reality poor people at time of World War One faced by. It’s a story of a heroic kid, Thomas Peaceful, who’s also known as Tommy. Tommy is a 15 yr. old buy who lost his father in an accident of tree declining. His father Mr. James Peaceful, his father was an employee forester, working under Colonel. The farmer’s family compromises of 2 more sons and his wife Mrs. Elizabeth Peaceful. Tommy’s elder brother was Joe to whom he loves the most. Joe was handicapped; however maintained himself somewhat physically but still was distorted mentally. This handicapped boy sings different poems and songs however, his other brother Charlie was elder to Tommy and loves Tommy a lot. He cares for him at every step of life. This farmer family was living contended when one day the employer Colonel asked his mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Peaceful to vacant the house they are living in as he owns it and they don’t have money to pay the rent off. It was the time when Mrs. Elizabeth Peaceful accepted the proposal of Colonel to take care of his wife all day long. This was the only way that Elizabeth can save the shelter for her up grooming kids. Life is not forever, one day it has to end and though the day comes, and Mrs. Colonel died. Now, it was difficult to save the house, but Colonel proposed her to send his child Charlie for the First World War. This wasn’t an easy task to do but there she showed up the bravery and sacrificed his child for the name of Britain Soldiers.

For Tommy, it wasn’t the complete decision. He loves Charlie; however he married a girl whom Tommy loves the most. Tommy, hiding up his cowardice, the guilt and other lone feelings and went to participate in the war. He for the sake of his brother, joined British army, concealing his actual age as he was young to join it. He was assigned to give duty at nights serving the warriors and taking care if the night goes safe. Michael Morpurgo, in his novel, divided the night in hours under the umbrella of chapters. The whole night on every hour passing by he remembers, how much he lived his life? How cowardice he was? And what bravery he seen in every passing minute of life? The guilt of father’s death as he always thinks that the accident was caused by him and in a way of making him survive his father died. That was a coward feeling he had which he for his life can’t remove. Moreover he remembers the first day to school, how Charlie took him to his school? And most exciting event of his life; meeting Molly – An older girl in his class. He falls in love with her, and how she gets so close to his family? But time passes and life gives you the hard times to face. His mother starts going for the day long to Mrs. Colonel and her aunt who always comment on Elizabeth’s bad grooming for children. How Mr. Colonel got married to wolf like Grandma immediately after the death of Mrs. Colonel and same did Charlie. He secretly loved Molly when they both work for the Colonel and then got married. Cowardice Tommy, was nothing else than a messenger. But still the brave love for Charlie indulges Tommy to participate in the War.

No later, in the war, Charlie left Tommy injured in no man’s land alone and run from the war back to home where Molly is now a mother of his child. The coward Charlie lied to his mother that he is dead and never told her or Molly about the hardships of the war. The mud, dead rats, lice, and other diseases through, which they fought in the battlefield. This was the hard time given to Thomas Peaceful but the soldiers’ Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley, bring back Thomas and core martial Charlie for screwing away from the battlefield leaving his brother injured in no man’s land.

The novels don’t ties up all the open threads in the story however, morally and dramatically ends. It punishes the cowardice and honors the bravery. Though bravery is not only in elders and cowards are not only the young ones; al what are the feelings to fight for. And the country to fight for must be for every youngster should be positively challenging such that they may sacrifice their lives for it.


Anonymous (February 6, 2008). Suicide– Bravery or Cowardice??? Available from http://qna.live.com/ShowQuestion.aspx?qid=AB6148551E0749A88FD8EACBFE507280 [Accessed on 20th Feb 2008]

Diane Samuels (October 18, 2003). The Lost Generation. Review – The Guardian. Available from http://books.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,,1065291,00.html [Accessed on 20th Feb 2008]

Jacket, Kirkus (n.d.) Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, M.B.E. Publisher and Industry Review. Available from http://www.waterstones.com/waterstonesweb/displayProductDetails.do?sku=5221892 [Accessed on 20th Feb 2008]

Publisher (n.d.) Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo, M.B.E. About this Book. Available from http://www.powells.com/biblio/61-9780439636483-0 [Accessed on 20th Feb 2008]

Ryan G. (September 28, 2006). Bravery vs. Cowardice. American Studies – Critics and Builders of Culture. Available from http://criticsandbuilders.typepad.com/as12/2006/09/bravery_vs_cowa.html [Accessed on 20th Feb 2008]

Tamela Mccann “terminator 1” (July 28, 2007). A Good Luck At World War One. Cutomer Review. Available from http://www.amazon.com/Private-Peaceful-After-Michael-Morpurgo/dp/0439636531 [Accessed on 20th Feb 2008]


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