Themes

The main theme of the short story “Chickamauga” by Ambrose Bierce is that of reality versus fantasy, enhanced by the motifs of war and childhood.

Reality versus fantasy

In the short story “Chickamauga”, the boy fails to see the gruesome reality which unveils in front of his eyes. He chooses to emerge in a world of fantasy, of valiant conquerors and a world of play and amusement. The boy is scared by reality, yet he finds comfort in the world of fantasy which he creates. He is afraid of the rabbit – an animal which he has seen before, yet not in an upright position – but he is not afraid of the wounded soldiers.

He prefers to imagine that wounded soldiers dirty with blood are clowns and that he can treat them like circus freaks. He climbs one wounded soldier in a game of make-believe, wishing to ride hi...

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