Armor By: John Steakley

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 11th grade January 2002

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The novel I choose for my independent study is called Armor, and is written by John Steakley. This novel is about the life of a soldier whose name is Felix. Felix's past is mysterious and his future is almost inevitable given his odds for survival in an inter-stellar war as a scout. The reader is shown the horror, courage and aftermath of combat through Felix's eyes. The two main characters in Armor often survive based on reaction, or their intense inner spirit. Their will or spirit protects them against all odds, which proves: Strength of spirit can be the greatest armor of all. Felix wills a creature into existence within him, an alter ego, which is a manifestation of his spirit's strength (or will) to survive. Jack Crow shows great inner strength as he refuses to let his spirit be broken when his fate seems certain. Felix's armor he physically wears is less protective mentally then Felix's mental armor, his alter ego.

In the time of war, many men have been known to break spiritually. When all a person sees, hears, smells and feels is death, this person begins to change. This person begins to break. The reason people begin to change is because everyone feels. No one wants to see people die, especially when your friends are among the dead. Felix's spirit creates this alter ego to protect Felix in a way his physical armor cannot. This "Engine" is a manifestation of his spirit and its strength. Felix's subconscious slowly replaces his intense feelings of hate and fatalism with a part of Felix that shows no real emotion. As Felix describes, it is his Engine, it works when he cannot. It does not feel.

"What replaced the loathing and fury was something very different, something cold and distant...