Feathers of Cowardice

The Four Feathers is pretty amazing. You should read it.  It is the story of Harry Feversham, who leaves  the army right before his regiment gets shipped to war.  Consequently, people in his regiment send him feathers, which is the symbol of cowardice.  Harry doesn’t really like that, so he goes to the Soudan anyway to prove his friends wrong. That’s the story in a nutshell.

These camels always take naps at the most inopportune times!

My favorite thing about this novel is the exploration of fear as a theme.  Harry is afraid to go to war; but he shows repeatedly that once he is in a dangerous situation, he isn’t afraid. He is, in essence, afraid of being afraid; which is not quite the same thing.

This is a great war novel as well, but oddly enough, there aren’t a lot of war scenes. It is mostly intrigue and mystery about where Harry is, what he is doing, and how different characters change their perception of him. A.E.W. Mason was a great writer, and his 1902 novel The Four Feathers still stands up as a great adventure tale. The movie with Heath Ledger is pretty good, too. Check it out!

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