How To Use This Discussion Guide
Begin by reading Michael Shaara’s “Chamberlain” on our site or in your copy of What So Proudly We Hail.
Materials for this guide include background information about the author and discussion questions to enhance your understanding and stimulate conversation about the story. In addition, the guide includes a series of short video discussions about the story, conducted by Eliot A. Cohen (Johns Hopkins SAIS) with the editors of the anthology. These seminars help capture the experience of high-level discourse as participants interact and elicit meaning from a classic American text. These videos are meant to raise additional questions and augment discussion, not replace it.
Below is a sample of writing prompts and essay questions for educators, based on Common Core Standards in English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies:
- The bulk of our attention is directed at Chamberlain’s speech to the men. But Shaara also lets us watch his actions toward and before them from the time they arrive; his manner, tone, and gestures; and the order in which he proceeds. Look carefully at all aspects of his conduct. How do they strike you as a reader? How might they have moved you were you among the mutineers? After reading “Chamberlain,” write a narrative from the perspective of the mutineers. How would you respond to Chamberlain if you were one of the mutineers? (Narrative/Description; Task 27)
- How do you encourage men and women to be courageous? After reading “Chamberlain” and Patton's “Speech to the Third Army,” write an essay that compares Chamberlain’s and Patton’s understanding of courage and leadership and argues for one mode of leadership over the other. Be sure to support your position with evidence from the texts. (Argumentation/Comparison; Task 4)
- Is there a difference between fighting for your honor and manhood—to avoid being a coward—and fighting for a cause or country? After reading “Chamberlain” and Pattons “Speech to the Third Army,” write an essay that compares the two different reasons for fighting and argues for one reason over the other. Be sure to support your position with evidence from the texts.(Argumentation/Comparison; Task 4)