This paper examines Louisa May Alcott’s autobiographical “Hospital Sketches” and its navigation of the atmosphere of the Civil War via a narrative of care and nursing. Alcott’s narrative presents a strong use of rhetoric, with humor and discussions of patient care acting to voice a position for the Northern cause. The nurse’s view of injured and dying soldiers in the hospital provides an alternative way of discussing the actions of the war, while humor allows for new ways of viewing the Rebel army, deflecting from straightforward criticism. Alcott also navigates a conversation on occupations for women during the war, showing Tribulation moving within the male space of war and acting as a soldier. Alcott’s seemingly superficial treatment of nursing duties reveals in actuality what is clearly an important commentary aligning with the North and abolitionism as well as an inside view of nursing in the mid-19th century.

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