The Killer Angels

The Killer Angels

by

Michael Shaara

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Tom Chamberlain Character Analysis

Tom is Joshua Chamberlain’s younger brother, newly a lieutenant in the regiment and “worshipful” of his older brother. Still boyish and inexperienced, Tom often calls his brother “Lawrence” instead of “Sir.” He is quick to do what is asked in battle, even running to fill a gap in the line on Little Round Top, much to his brother’s horror. At the end of the book, Tom muses that he cannot understand the Confederates’ motives—how can they fight so hard for slavery? While Chamberlain agrees, Tom’s youthful innocence serves as a foil to Chamberlain, whose idealism has been somewhat chastened by both the horrors and joys of the past few days.

Tom Chamberlain Quotes in The Killer Angels

The The Killer Angels quotes below are all either spoken by Tom Chamberlain or refer to Tom Chamberlain. 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.
Friday, July 3, 1863: Chapter 6 Quotes

Tom said, “When you ask them prisoners, they never talk about slavery. But, Lawrence, how do you explain that? What else is the war about?”

Chamberlain shook his head.

“If it weren’t for the slaves, there’d never have been no war, now would there?”

“No,” Chamberlain said.

“Well then, I don’t care how much political fast-talking you hear, that’s what it’s all about and that’s what them fellers died for, and I tell you, Lawrence, I don’t understand it at all.”

Related Characters: Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain (speaker), Tom Chamberlain (speaker)
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:
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Tom Chamberlain Character Timeline in The Killer Angels

The timeline below shows where the character Tom Chamberlain 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
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Chamberlain’s younger brother, Tom, newly a lieutenant, greets him and asks him why he doesn’t ride the horse, as... (full context)
Honor Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
...for the prisoners (soon identified as Bucklin) asks to air his grievances, so Chamberlain dismisses Tom and leads the man away to speak in private. Chamberlain welcomes the scarred man to... (full context)
Honor Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
...line and move out. He dismisses Bucklin with the promise to consider his words. When Tom comes in, Chamberlain warns him about any appearance of favoritism, and, on Tom’s complaint that... (full context)
Honor Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
...“a new vague doubt” troubles his mind, but he isn’t sure what he missed saying. Tom brings Chamberlain’s horse, and Chamberlain agrees to ride on today’s march. As the regiment moves... (full context)
Wednesday, July 1, 1863: Chapter 4: Chamberlain
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
...cross the Pennsylvania border, they hear more cheers and accept food from farmers. He overhears Tom describing the ways of the Second Maine to some of the new men, such as... (full context)
Thursday, July 2, 1863: Chapter 2: Chamberlain
Honor Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Tom arrives, chuckling over his conversation with some Rebel prisoners. When asked about their motives for... (full context)
Thursday, July 2, 1863: Chapter 4: Chamberlain
Honor Theme Icon
...left Union flank. As shells begin to tear into the trees around them, Chamberlain orders Tom to the rear, to lessen the likelihood that both brothers will be killed at once.... (full context)
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
...on the dead and injured, he comes upon Kilrain, shot in the armpit. He sends Tom for a surgeon. Chamberlain is shot in the foot as he overlooks the next wave... (full context)
Honor Theme Icon
...and has lost many men. They are stretched thin, and Chamberlain is briefly horrified when Tom jumps up to plug a hole in the line. Chamberlain feels it would be his... (full context)
Honor Theme Icon
...wounded and dying soldiers, shares a drink with one of his men, and talks with Tom, who has survived the battle unhurt. Colonel Rice, the new commander of the brigade, tells... (full context)
Friday, July 3, 1863: Chapter 1: Chamberlain
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Chamberlain sits in a tree overlooking Gettysburg after a sleepless night, hungry and exhausted. Tom brings him coffee, and they chat, Chamberlain missing Kilrain. Tom talks about his fear in... (full context)
Friday, July 3, 1863: Chapter 3: Chamberlain
Honor Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
...when he reaches his camp and then works on wrapping his bleeding foot. He sees Tom approach and thinks about sending Tom to plug the hole in the line, the only... (full context)
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Tom’s expression shows that something is wrong. Tom tells Chamberlain that the hospital is a mess,... (full context)
Friday, July 3, 1863: Chapter 6: Chamberlain
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
...begins to fall lightly around Chamberlain, washing the dust and dirt from his face. Soon Tom finds him and sits with him in the darkness. Chamberlain feels immense love for his... (full context)
Honor Theme Icon
Old World vs. New World Theme Icon
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Slavery and Freedom Theme Icon
Tom points out that the Rebel prisoners never talk about slavery. He asks Chamberlain how Chamberlain... (full context)
Idealism vs. Disillusionment Theme Icon
Tom gets up, urging his brother to move, too, since there’s a big rain coming. He... (full context)