Private Peaceful


Michael Morpurgo

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Themes and Colors
The Injustice of War Theme Icon
Courage Theme Icon
Cruelty and Power Theme Icon
Grief, Guilt, and Family Theme Icon
Religion and Faith Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Private Peaceful, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

The Injustice of War

Private Peaceful is a novel committed to overturning the view that war is something glorious or distinguished. Instead, Morpurgo makes a point of illustrating that the First World War was characterized by tragic injustices that should never happen again. Morpurgo demonstrates this primarily through the characters of Tommo and the other soldiers, many of whom seem to sacrifice their lives for no tangible reason or result. That Tommo himself is underage reflects another aspect of…

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Private Peaceful is a book that celebrates bravery and standing up for one’s beliefs. While it may seem that the courageous characters in the book, in particular Charlie, Tommo, and their mother, Mrs. Peaceful, are not always explicitly rewarded for their bravery (in fact Charlie is executed for his), it does always earn them with the respect and admiration of those around them. Morpurgo thus implies the inherent value of courage and…

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Cruelty and Power

From the vicious Grandma Wolf, to the hard-hearted Colonel, to the vindictive Sergeant Hanley, bullies are a constant presence throughout Private Peaceful. The bullies in this novel are spiteful characters who seem incapable of kindness and whose actions—if left unchecked—can have devastating consequences: Hanley’s cruelty for instance, when combined with his position of power, directly leads to Charlie’s death. The novel thus underscores the danger in placing a cruel and…

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Grief, Guilt, and Family

Private Peaceful is in many ways a book about dealing with loss. As characters throughout the story find methods of coping, Morpurgo suggests that the best way to work through loss is not to linger but to find some means of moving forward. Family is presented as an especially potent source of comfort and support in times of grief throughout the novel, yet the most important factor in healing is to stop blaming oneself for…

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Religion and Faith

Private Peaceful begins with an optimistic impression of religion and spirituality. While Tommo is at home in England, he and his family seem assured in their Christian faith—faith that, in turn, comforts them through times of loss and grief. Over the course of the book, however, Tommo’s religious faith proves inadequate to deal with or explain the horrors of war. Eventually he decides that there is only earth and mankind after all, and that there…

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