The Americanization of Emily

Discussion Questions

1) What does Emily mean when she tells Charlie not to Americanize her?

2) What is Charlie's view of Americans? Is he representative of the American character? If so, how? If not, why not?

3) What is Charlie's criticism of war? What are war's virtues, according to Charlie? What does he show Emily's mother and Emily about themselves?

4) What is the difference between love and principle? What is Charlie's point about a lion in the house? How is that point reflected in his response to the movie the Admiral wants Charlie to make, and to the Admiral's vision of the tomb for the unknown sailor?

5) Charlie says, "Life isn't good or bad or true. It's merely factual. It's sensual. It's alive. My idea of living, sensual facts are: You, a home, a country, a world, a universe, in that order. I want to know what I am, not what I should be. The fact is I'm a coward. I've never met anyone who wasn't." Is he right about himself? About Emily?

6) Why does Emily become involved with Charlie? Why does she agree to marry him? And, why does she tell him it is over? Why do you suppose she takes him back, and persuades him to play the part of the hero?

7) Does Charlie learn anything from Emily? Does Charlie Americanize Emily?

Paper Topics

1) Consider Charlie's repugnance for war and its opportunities of heroism and glorification of courage. How would our authors treat Charlie? Is he to be admired or despised and loathed, as Emily argues?

2) Are there similarities between Charlie's opinion of war and Augustine's? If so, what are they? What are the differences (consider specifically what each says about God and love)?

3) These scenes bypass the question of the justice of this war. Yet they raise questions about Charlie's responsibilities as a soldier in the chain of command and the wisdom of risking Charlie's and other men's lives to make this movie. Do Aquinas's considerations shed light on Charlie's situation?

4) Would Kant praise or blame Charlie's "religion" of cowardice? Why or why not? Would the world be more peaceful if we all thought and felt like Charlie?


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