Private Peaceful

by

Michael Morpurgo

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Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley Character Analysis

One of the antagonists in the novel, Sergeant Hanley is a vicious and cruel man, who is in charge of Tommo and Charlie’s company at their training camp, and then later again in the war. He instantly takes a dislike to Charlie, because Charlie refuses to “jump through hoops” for Hanley like the other men do. Charlie boldly tells Hanley what he thinks of Hanley’s malicious and often ridiculous orders, and Hanley continues to attack Charlie for his so-called disobedience. He also mistreats Tommo because he is Charlie’s brother. Tommo later claims that it was Hanley, rather than the war itself, that broke the men’s spirit. Hanley is ultimately responsible for Charlie’s execution: Charlie refuses to abandon a gravely injured Tommo on the battlefield and follow Hanley’s suicidal order to attack a German trench, even though the men are completely vulnerable to attack. Charlie stays with Tommo, and Hanley orders his execution because of it, purely out of spite. Hanley is eventually killed, but it is too late for Charlie to be saved from his execution.

Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley Quotes in Private Peaceful

The Private Peaceful quotes below are all either spoken by Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley or refer to Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Private Peaceful published in 2003.
Chapter 10 Quotes

From then on, every waking hour of every day, Hanley was at us. […] By the time we went back up into the line, Hanley snapping at our heels, his voice had become a vicious bark inside each of our heads. Every one of us hated him like poison, a great deal more than we had ever hated Fritz.

Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

“The whole court martial took less than an hour, Tommo. That’s all they gave me. An hour for a man’s life. Not a lot, is it? And do you know what the brigadier said, Tommo? He said I was a worthless man. Worthless. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life, Tommo, but none of them ever upset me, except that one. I didn’t show it, mind. I wouldn’t have given them the satisfaction.”

Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley Character Timeline in Private Peaceful

The timeline below shows where the character Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley appears in Private Peaceful. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8: Fourteen Minutes Past Two
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
Tommo and Charlie meet Sergeant “Horrible” Hanley at their training camp in France. Hanley “ha[s] it in for Charlie” from the very... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...arrive at their French training camp in Etaples, and this is where they meet Sergeant Hanley, who is in charge of their company. He is “not a big man” but he... (full context)
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
One day, Hanley tells Charlie that he is a “blot on creation” and then asks him, “what are... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
As a result of his profound dislike of Charlie, Hanley starts picking on Tommo, too. By now, everyone in the company knows that Tommo was... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
Tommo soon becomes exhausted from all the punishments and extra sentry duty. One day, Hanley accuses him of having a dirty rifle barrel, and orders Tommo to run five circuits... (full context)
Chapter 9: A Minute Past Three
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...they are all relieved because this means that they will be leaving “Etaples and Sergeant Hanley forever.” Their new captain is called Captain Wilkes, and he often encourages the men to... (full context)
Chapter 10: Twenty-Five Past Three
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...good mood is shattered when Pete tells him that their new sergeant will be Sergeant Hanley. When Hanley arrives, every day becomes miserable. He is constantly breathing down the soldiers’ necks... (full context)
Chapter 11: Nearly Four O’Clock
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
The company soon discovers that Sergeant Hanley will never let up on them. He claims they “shamed the regiment” by acting like... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...sent back into the trenches, and Charlie returns. Everyone feels “suddenly safer” having him back. Hanley on the other hand is not at all pleased to have Charlie back, and warns... (full context)
Chapter 12: Five to Five
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...dead man.” They decide that they are stuck in the dugout for now, until Sergeant Hanley declares that they will under no circumstances “stay put.” He orders all of the men... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
Hanley orders everyone to move out of the dugout, and everyone hesitates. Charlie tells Hanley what... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
Sergeant Hanley returns to the dugout, but barely any of the other soldiers do. Hanley sits glaring... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
...tell the judges the truth, but they would only listen to the word of Sergeant Hanley. He claims that “they knew [he] was right, but it made no difference,” because “they’d... (full context)
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
When Tommo returns to camp he expects sympathy, but instead finds people smiling, because Sergeant Hanley has been killed. Unfortunately, the news comes too late to help Charlie, but Tommo describes... (full context)