The Fighting Ground

The Fighting Ground

Edward Irving Wortis is the author of the book The Fighting Ground under his pen name Avi. Wortis wrote the book in 1984 as a historical fiction young adult novel. Its setting is in New Jersey in 1778 during the American Revolutionary War. America was fighting for its independence from colonialist Britain, who had also hired the German and Hessian soldiers. The story is about a 13-years old boy by the name of Jonathan, who is portrayed as the protagonist. It shows Jonathan’s disillusioning experience in the war within 24 hours. Despite the book winning the Scott O’Dell award in 1985 for being the best historical fiction, it was banned from the Panama City, FL, school library. The grounds for its banning were the use of obscene language by the soldiers (Banned Library, 2017).

In the novel, Jonathan is portrayed as a brave teenager who wants to fight in the ongoing revolutionary war. His father would, however, not allow him to join the army. However, despite his father’s disapproval, Jonathan decides to fight with his town when the soldiers are called to arm by the tavern bell. Since he does not have a gun, he borrows one from the tavern keeper and joins a small militia led by a dedicated and serious corporal. On the battlefield, he is at the front line, and when he sees soldiers die and others get wounded, he is horrified and confused, which makes him flee into the woods. In the woods, the Hessian soldiers are captured and taken prisoner (Small Planet Communications, 2020).

The rising action of the novel is when Jonathan gets captured and when he is trying to escape. While in captivity, he finds a little boy whose parents had been killed, and he wants to bury them. Since he cannot do it alone, he pleads with the soldiers, and the youngest agrees to help him. This shows that despite being a prisoner, he is still courageous and willing to do good to others. When the soldiers fall asleep, Jonathan manages to flee himself and the little boy. Before escaping, he had the opportunity to shoot the soldiers while they were at sleep but could not bring himself to do it. He eventually traces where his troop was camping and tells the corporal about his encounter with the Hessian soldiers (Small Planet Communications, 2020).

The corporal asks him to take them to the Hessians, but despite being reluctant, he leads them there. On reaching their camp and he is ordered to enter by the corporal, he decides to wake them up and ask them to surrender. They are, however, killed after trying to use him as a shield. He is upset about this outcome and even destroys the gun he had borrowed and eventually returns home safely to his parents. The main theme portrayed in the story is that of a battle within a battle. Jonathan seems to be fighting his own battle within when he is on the battlefield. However, through that experience, he finds out the true meaning of courage. He gets to change his perspective about war and appreciate life (Thompson, 2009).


Banned Library. (2017). The Fighting Ground by Avi — Banned Library. Banned Library. Retrieved from

Thompson, E. (2009). Avi – The Fighting Ground. Retrieved from

Small Planet Communications, I. (2020). Planet Book Club | Novels | The Fighting Ground. Retrieved from

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