The Young Lions Summary
Irwin Shaw

Everything you need to understand or teach The Young Lions by Irwin Shaw.

  • The Young Lions Summary & Study Guide

The Young Lions Summary

At each level of conflict Shaw develops a major theme. At the international level he portrays fascism as a corrupt, dehumanizing ideology that poisons every human instinct, feeds on violence, and eventually consumes itself.

At the national level Shaw shows that American democracy, although superior to fascism, does not live up its own ideals of individualism and equal opportunity. Military organizations repeat the inequality of the capitalistic marketplace: The rich get deferments and comfortable jobs while the poor get the infantry and combat assignments. At the personal level, Shaw displays the heroism of ordinary men who reluctantly accept the need to shed blood. They kill in self-defense, determined to eradicate a cancerous ideology. The heroism of the common man is modest, admirable, and realistic, the foundation of the new world. It is born not from foolishly romantic images of combat but from a determination to live freely and...

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The Young Lions Short Guide