What do these stories of Jonathan’s “blessings” have in common ?
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An early sentence, this passage reflects the thematic conflict of the story, between Jonathan's optimism and war-torn world around him. He succeeds largely because he is able to focus only on the former. The sentence structure here focuses on the surviving family members, and introduces the death of Jonathan's son only indirectly. Though the death of Jonathan's son represents his most devastating loss, it remains relatively hidden throughout "Civil Peace". It is only mentioned once more, almost incidentally, when the narrator describes the place Jonathan buried his bike. However, the survival of the remaining family members is mentioned several more times, highlighting the story's emphasis on "blessings" instead of losses. The horrors of the Civil War remain a dark undercurrent, but never overwhelm Jonathan's constructive and hopeful approach to life. In this way, he is a model, both for other individuals and for struggling governments.
"He had come out of the war with five inestimable blessings--his head, his wife Maria's head and the heads of three out of their four children."