Private Peaceful

by

Michael Morpurgo

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Captain Wilkes / “Wilkie” Character Analysis

Wilkes takes over as captain of Tommo’s company for a while, and treats the men very well, earning their respect. He was a choirmaster in England, and thus encourages the men to sing in order to keep their morale up. He also keeps their trenches clean and looks after the men well. Eventually he is injured in battle, but Charlie loyally carries him all the way back to the English trenches. Wilkes later dies from his injuries, but leaves Charlie his special watch in gratitude. Captain Wilkes is a complete contrast to the company’s earlier commander, Sergeant Hanley. Wilkes is respectful and considerate of his men, and they all respect him in return, especially Charlie. Hanley on the other hand treats his men despicably, so Charlie constantly defies him as a matter of principle.
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Captain Wilkes / “Wilkie” Character Timeline in Private Peaceful

The timeline below shows where the character Captain Wilkes / “Wilkie” appears in Private Peaceful. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9: A Minute Past Three
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...they will be leaving “Etaples and Sergeant Hanley forever.” Their new captain is called Captain Wilkes, and he often encourages the men to sing to boost their morale. Wilkes was a... (full context)
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
...to the nearby village of Poperinghe (“Pop”) to an estaminet, which is like a pub. Wilkes claims it serves “the best egg and chips in the entire world,” and all of... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
The trench and dugouts are a mess from their previous inhabitants, so Captain Wilkes sets the men to work cleaning them up to avoid rats. The rats inevitably arrive... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Captain Wilkes and Charlie also help to keep morale up with their positive attitudes, and Tommo claims... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
...and he is slated to go with Charlie, Nipper Martin, Pete, Little Les, and Captain “Wilkie” Wilkes. Tommo finds he is “not so much frightened as excited” for the task ahead.... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
...begins, and the British soldiers hurry to a crater to shelter themselves from the attack. Wilkie is stuck further up a slope, and tells the boys that he can’t move his... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Tommo and Charlie go to see Wilkie at the hospital. Wilkie has already been transported back to Britain because he was “in... (full context)
Chapter 10: Twenty-Five Past Three
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
...straight from England and seems young and inexperienced as a result, and everyone misses Captain Wilkes. Tommo comments that Buckland seems even younger than Tommo does. (full context)