The Killer Angels

The Killer Angels

by

Michael Shaara

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A former sergeant demoted to private for throwing a bottle at an officer, hard-drinking Kilrain assists Chamberlain in the regiment and has been loyal to him from his first day with the Twentieth Maine. Though he admires Chamberlain’s lofty views on human equality, he does not share them. Familiar with discrimination because of his Irish roots, he hates aristocracy and believes the war is being fought to ensure that a good person cannot be enchained by the past, regardless of descent. Kilrain is shot twice during the Battle of Little Round Top, and later his heart gives out in the hospital.

Buster Kilrain Quotes in The Killer Angels

The The Killer Angels quotes below are all either spoken by Buster Kilrain or refer to Buster Kilrain. 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:
Honor Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ballantine edition of The Killer Angels published in 1974.
Thursday, July 2, 1863: Chapter 2 Quotes

What I’m fighting for is the right to prove I’m a better man than many. Where have you seen this divine spark in operation, Colonel? Where have you noted this magnificent equality? … There’s many a man worse than me, and some better, but I don’t think race or country matters a damn. What matters is justice.

Related Characters: Buster Kilrain (speaker), Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Killer Angels LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Killer Angels PDF

Buster Kilrain Character Timeline in The Killer Angels

The timeline below shows where the character Buster Kilrain appears in The Killer Angels. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Monday, June 29, 1863: Chapter 2: Chamberlain
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Chamberlain is awakened from a dream about Maine by Buster Kilrain. The former is recovering from sunstroke after an eighty-mile march over four days. Kilrain explains... (full context)
Thursday, July 2, 1863: Chapter 2: Chamberlain
Honor Theme Icon
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
...violence … a well-bred, well-mannered, highly educated man challenging you to a duel.” Just then, Kilrain appears with the news that he has found an injured black man. (full context)
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
...flutter of unmistakable revulsion” he had never suspected was there. He feels ashamed. Looking on, Kilrain says, “And this is what [the war is] all about.” (full context)
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
As they wait, Chamberlain asks Kilrain what he thinks of “Negroes.” Kilrain broods and finally says that one cannot judge an... (full context)
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
They sit in silence for a while. Kilrain finally says that he sees a great difference between them, which he can’t help but... (full context)
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Kilrain goes on to explain his personal philosophy and motive for fighting: “There’s many a man... (full context)
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Kilrain tells Chamberlain that the “strange and beautiful” thing about him is that he actually believes... (full context)
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Kilrain continues to argue that the point of the war is that “we have a country... (full context)
Thursday, July 2, 1863: Chapter 4: Chamberlain
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
...seems to be repelled. As Chamberlain checks on the dead and injured, he comes upon Kilrain, shot in the armpit. He sends Tom for a surgeon. Chamberlain is shot in the... (full context)
Honor Theme Icon
Chamberlain goes back to check on Kilrain, who has been shot twice. There is a silently emotional moment, “like coming back to... (full context)
Honor Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
...with ammunition, he asks that they occupy nearby Big Round Top. Chamberlain says goodbye to Kilrain, having never known a day in the regiment without him. As he and his men... (full context)
Friday, July 3, 1863: Chapter 1: Chamberlain
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
...a sleepless night, hungry and exhausted. Tom brings him coffee, and they chat, Chamberlain missing Kilrain. Tom talks about his fear in battle the day before, and Chamberlain remembers the exultation... (full context)
Friday, July 3, 1863: Chapter 3: Chamberlain
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
...is a mess, with amputations being done out in the open. Chamberlain asks him about Kilrain. Tom finally admits that Kilrain has died. Chamberlain’s senses come sharply into focus as he... (full context)
Friday, July 3, 1863: Chapter 6: Chamberlain
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Chamberlain is thinking of Kilrain: “no divine spark.” He also thinks, “Animal meat: the Killer Angels.” He watches as bodies... (full context)