Characterization in Chioles's Before the Firing Squad.

Essay by Charmer221High School, 12th grade October 2003

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Fritz, a German solider in occupied Greece, is a major character in John Chioles's short story, Before the Firing Squad. We first begin to learn about him through the recollections of a young boy in the town whom he has befriended. We learn that all of the soldiers are very young. They do not know what they are doing. People in the town almost like the soldiers, including the young boy in this story. The solider that he befriends is not cruel or inhuman. In fact, he brings good food for the boy and the family all of the time. He does not do it because he has to; he does it because he wants to be kind. One would not expect a German solider to act in such a manner. However, this soldier is more of a boy than a man. In fact, all of the soldiers are like this.

The town even refers to them as the "town mascots," which is iron since they are supposedly the ones in charge of the town. This image contrasts sharply with that of the other German forces. They are cruel and malicious and the men of the town fight against them. These forces are the antithesis of Frick and the other town soldiers. They ignore when all of the men are gone and refuse to ask questions. This shows the kindness of the soldiers. Frick is just a young boy and he, like the other boys, has become attached to the people in the town. Giving them food and ignoring their transgressions are both signs of that.

The incident when the boy hurts his knee is another time when Frick's character shows through. When the boy returns home, there is a bowl of hot soup there, waiting for him...