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Sky High Character Profile Essay

Will Stronghold just enter his first year of high school. But the school he attends is not your ordinary place of a learning institution. Sky High is full of kids with cool special powers- but these kids must first come pass Coach Boomer who will determine what student will be in either category- popular kids or the sidekicks. Any kid that can prove they have special superhero powers are the popular ones, such as the jocks or cheerleaders- those who lack the ability is labeled only as a sidekick also known as the rejects or nerds.
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Stronghold does not have control of any superhero powers inherit by his parents, The Commander and Jetstream so he is placed as a sidekick. Feeling down about learning of this awful news, he does not tell his parents so they will be disappointed in him. He feel it will come around soon- he knows some students that have some powers of their own Layla who can control plant life thanks to her natural green thumb, Ethan can melt into mush, Zach who can glows when placed in a an unexpected dilemma, who glows and Magenta who can only form herself into a purple guinea pig.

But that special day for Will finally comes when he is met up with his bully Warren Peace, who had a strong grudge against Will and his parents- The Commander locked up Peace's father who were villain. Peace's can turn his hand naturally to a flamethrower; while trying to use his ability on Will in a cafeteria brawl, Stronghold finally found his strength, picking up Peace with his mind and throwing him against the wall. Instantly Will finds his newfound power and is placed as the new school hero. Things start to change for him, including his choice for friends, he'd even meets one of the prettiest girl in school, high school senior Gwen who is also Will's new lab partner, (also have mind control over electronics) have taking a strong liking towards Will. So far things for Stronghold is running smoothly, school days aren't so bad, long gone the days of Warren the bully, special powers of his own and a popular girl by his side. But Layla secretly starting to fall for Will and he does not knows it.

The review of this Movie prepared by Alicia M.

Script Analysis of Sky High

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Plot & Themes

Composition of BookActual chase scenes or violence 10%Planning/preparing, gather info, debate puzzle 70%Feelings, relationships, character bio/development 20%**Fantasy or Science Fiction?**    -   fantasy story on present day Earth Coming of age    -   Yeshe'll/she'll become:    -   a powerful magician/mental powers person

Main Character

Identity:    -   Male Profession/status:    -   student Age:    -   a teen Has special powers?    -   Yes Magical/mental powers of main character:    -   super strength    -   can fly    -   is very quick Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)


Earth setting:    -   20th century (1970's to Present) Takes place on Earth?    -   Yes Big cities?    -   Yes Misc settings    -   small town Kind of city    -   Beautiful sparkling advanced city

Writing Style

Accounts of torture and death?    -   generic/vague references to death/punishment Tone of movie    -   funny Sex/nudity in movie?    -   Yes Kinds of F/X    -   Things that change shape/morph    -   nasty human transformations

Movies with storylines, themes & endings like Sky High

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1 starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone starring Daniel Radcliffe, Robbie Coltrane, Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith, John Cleese
The Seeker: The Dark Is Rising starring Alexander Ludwig, Christopher Eccleston, Merriman Lyon, Frances Conroy
The Sorcerer's Apprentice starring Nicolas Cage, Jay Baruchel, Alfred Molina, Teresa Palmer
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2 starring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson
Sky High Message Board (click here)
Note: the views expressed here are only those of the reviewer(s).

A Horseman in the Sky - Study Guide

One of Ambrose Bierce's most read stories, A Horseman in the Sky (1889) is a vivid account of difficult ethical choices during wartime. We hope this guide is particularly useful for students and teachers.

Here's the story: A Horseman in the Sky, Character Analysis & Summary, Genre & Themes, Literary Devices & Vocabulary, Historical Context, Quotes, Discussion Questions, Paired Reading Recommendations, Useful Links, and Notes/Teacher Comments

Character Analysis

    Carter Druse - The story's protagonist, he is the only child of wealthy Virginia parents who decides to join the Union regiment that arrived in Grafton, Virginia, a few miles from their home. His action makes him a traitor to Virginia (according to his father) and breaks his heart. The Union officers assign Carter to a remote outpost as sentinel since he knows the terrain and they are impressed by his "deeds of devotion and daring." He betrays them by falling asleep on duty.

    Carter's Father - A wealthy landowner in Western Virginia whose only son announced he is joining the Union, to which he replied, "Well, go, sir, and whatever may occur do what you conceive to be your duty." His father promises they will speak more of the matter should they both live to the end of the war (that was prescient). The father is both staunchly reserved (does not show emotion), and reveres duty and family.

    The Horseman - The identity of the rider is not revealed until the end of the story, when we learn it's Druse's father, a Confederate spy. Likened to a god, collosal in magnitude and seemingly having spiritual powers, Carter shoots him to avoid allowing him to reveal the Union regiment's position he's guarding in the valley below.

    Carter's Mother - Though she never appears in the story, Carter's father reminds him that she is critically ill and will die in a few weeks. The young Druse does not announce his decision or say goodbye to her, at his father's insistence, due to her fragile condition.

    The Officer - The only witness to the death of Druse's father, whom he sees falling over a thousand foot vertical cliff, appearing to fly as an apparition. He gave up searching for the body and horse and failed to report it.

    Sargeant - The officer who hears the shot and interviews Druse, who confesses that the man he shot was his father, horrifying the sargeant.

    The Angel - The unseen force that wakens Druse from his sentry slumber, just in time to spy the Confederate spy undetected.

Plot Summary

    The story's main character is Carter Druse, a private who joined the Union Army in defiance of his Virginia heritage and family who live near where the fighting is about to commence. His father, though broken-hearted, tells Carter to follow his sense of duty and to not tell his dying mother. Because he grew up in the terrain, Druse is appointed sentinel on a high ridge overlooking a valley where his regiment is awaiting their surprise attack on the Confederates. He falls asleep, but is awakened by an angelic force just in time to witness a mysterious, statuesque horseman who has identified the Union regiments, but has not yet discovered Druse's position. Druse has his hand on his rifle ready to fire, they look into eachother's eyes before Druse, after hesitating, decides it is his duty to kill the Confederate horseman spy to protect the Union's position. One officer witnessed the falling horseman over the sheer cliff, appearing to fly, gives up his search for the body below, and decides not to report it to his superior. A sargeant who heard the shot interviews Druse, who confesses that the man he killed was his father.


    Civil War short stories genre, historic fiction in its seeming realistic portrayal of actual events, soldiers, and battles, with a supernatural element of mythological allegory. Since Bierce served in the War, he coupled his gifted writing abilities with his credible and dramatic stories that brought the complexities of War to life for his readers.


    Son vs. Father - The War tore families apart; men deciding to enlist in the Civil War generally had a greater allegiance to their town, county, state, before their country. In this story, both father and son chose to defend their duty over their family, but for opposing sides, which makes Bierce's story so poignant.

    Treason - Joining the Union as a Virginian was considered treason by his father, he knowingly dissapointed his parents, committed a crime as sentinel (sleeping on watch). Most importantly, he committed treason against his family, killing his own father!

    Hierarchy of Duties - The story explores the powerful concepts of allegiance to family, faith and their sometimes-conflict with military duty. No "spiritual preparation" was needed, the "duty of the soldier was plain: the man must be shot dead from ambush."

    Compassion, Conscience and Reason - Qualities shared by both father and son, but each of their decisions, and the irreversible consequences, leave the reader understanding the War's devastation in Bierce's telling of the story.

    Rules Define Actions - Soldiers adhere to the military's rules of conduct; their duty is to kill the enemy. Druse chooses his duty to the Union by killing an enemy spy who will reveal their position, over his love and allegiance to his father.

    Judgement - How will Druse by judged and by whom? God? Family? The Federal Army? Fellow soldiers? Will Druse be able to live with himself and his decision in the end?

Literary Devices

    Bierce's Hook

    • Bierce's writing style always dives right in to details, beginning with the first sentence, fully engaging his readers from the get-go.

    Metaphors and Similes

    • Describing his father's disappointment: "[He] returned the salute with a stately courtesy that masked a breaking heart."
    • Personified wake-up call (an angel?): "...some invisible messenger of fate touched with unsealing finger the eyes of his consciousness--whispered into the ear of his spirit the mysterious awakening word which no human lips ever have spoken, no human memory ever has recalled."
    • "The profile of the horse was cut with the sharpness of a cameo"
    • Bierce compares the rider to a "noble work of art"
    • "His nerves were as tranquil as a sleeping babe's"

    Situational Irony

    • The story employs situational irony for the discrepancy between what we expect to happen and what actually happens.


    • Consequences of falling asleep at his post: "Their position would be perilous in the extreme; and fail they surely would should accident or vigilance apprise the enemy of the movement."
    • Foreshadowing his death? The father tells Carter, "Should we both live to the end of the war, we will speak further of the matter."

    Biblical References

    • Druse "bows reverently to his father" as a spiritual leader
    • Describing the powerful presence of the rider: "heroic, colossal, Grecian god"
    • Their position high on a mountain, on a pedestal (pulpit), looking down (into the valley of death?), lots of Biblical references here.
    • Before he shoots, visions of dark angels or demons? "Statuesque group before him as black figures, rising, falling, moving unsteadily in arcs of circles in a fiery sky."
    • Describing his father's parting words as "a divine mandate."
    • Like a blessing, before he shoots, Druse says: "Peace, be still."
    • Spiritual vision of resurrection: the officer saw a man on horseback riding through the air.
    • Final judgement - Druse violated The Ten Commandments: "Honour they father and they mother, Though shalt not kill."
    • "Good God!" was the sargeant's response upon hearing Druse's confession.

    Mythological References

    • Flying horseman - Pegasus & Perseus, or The Chimaera & Bellerophon
    • Colossal hero - Grecian God
    • Lionine head - Lions symbolize power and wealth. The Nemean lion was a vicious monster, eventually killed by Heracles, but his fur was impervious to mortals' weapons


    • Leonine head - Describing Druse's father, it means resembling a lion
    • Carbine - A light automatic rifle
    • Pommel of the saddle - The upward curving or projecting part of a saddle in front of the rider.
    • Bivouac in the valley - A temporary camp without tents or cover.
    • Foeman - An enemy in war.

    Bierce characteristically offers so much detail and descriptions in his Civil War stories, he brings to life the specific battles, strategies, and personalizes the soldiers' experiences both on and off the battlefield, particularly the moral choices war time presents.

    To better understand the historic context of this story, it's helpful to review the Civil War battles fought in Western Virginia. The setting may be near Grafton (where Druse told his father the Union regiment had arrived) and Philippi where both armies led their brigades: Col. Morris (US) and Col. Porterfield (Confederates). The Union mounted a two-prong advance, surprising a small Confederate occupation force at Philippi before dawn on June 3, 1861. Though it resulted in only 30 casualties, it was considered the first major land action in the Eastern Theater.

    Was it really an act of "treason" for Virginians to enlist in the Union rather than Confederate forces? No, the counties that today comprise West Virginia were mostly Union controlled, from which roughly 32,000 Virginians served in the Union army. The vast majority of eligible Virginians (155,000) served the Confederates. The enlistment rate in Confederate Virginia was 89 percent, more men than from any other state in the Confederacy. For more details: Encyclopedia Virginia.

    Is it true that a soldier who falls asleep at his post can be executed? Yes, a Union soldier, William Scott, "The Sleeping Sentinel" was court-martialed and sentenced to be executed for sleeping on duty in 1861. Lincoln agreed to his pardon, extending mercy to the criminal. The pardon states:
    "This act of clemency must not be understood as affording a precedent for any future case. The duty of a sentinel is of such a nature, that its neglect by sleeping upon or deserting his post may endanger the safety of a command, or even of the whole army, and all nations affix to the offence the penalty of death."

    To ensure clear rules of conduct for all Federal soldiers during war time, President Lincoln imposed the Lieber Code in April of 1863, which specified the ethical treatment of prisoners of war and empancipated slaves.

    Explain what the following quotes mean and how they relate to the story:

    Bierce's 'hook': "One sunny afternoon in the autumn of the year 1861 a soldier lay in a clump of laurel by the side of a road in western Virginia."

    “No country is so wild and difficult but men will make it a theatre of war; concealed in the forest at the bottom of that military rat-trap, in which half a hundred men in possession of the exits might have starved an army to submission, lay five regiments of Federal infantry.”

    “Your mother, as the physician has informed you, is in a most critical condition; at the best she cannot be with us longer than a few weeks, but that time is precious. It would be better not to disturb her.”

    “His first feeling was a keen artistic delight. On a colossal pedestal, the cliff,--motionless at the extreme edge of the capping rock and sharply outlined against the sky,--was an equestrian statue of impressive dignity. The figure of the man sat the figure of the horse, straight and soldierly, but with the repose of a Grecian god carved in the marble which limits the suggestion of activity.

    "At that instant the horseman turned his head and looked in the direction of his concealed foeman--seemed to look into his very face, into his eyes, into his brave, compassionate heart."

    “Carter Druse grew pale; he shook in every limb, turned faint, and saw the statuesque group before him as black figures, rising, falling, moving unsteadily in arcs of circles in a fiery sky.”

    "The duty of the soldier was plain: the man must be shot dead from ambush--without warning, without a moment's spiritual preparation, with never so much as an unspoken prayer, he must be sent to his account."

    “It was not for long; in another moment his face was raised from earth, his hands resumed their places on the rifle, his forefinger sought the trigger; mind, heart, and eyes were clear, conscience and reason sound.”

    “'See here, Druse,' he said, after a moment's silence, 'it's no use making a mystery. I order you to report. Was there anybody on the horse?''Yes.' 'Well?' 'My father.'... 'Good God!'"

    1. Ambrose Bierce was one of the only major author to see combat during the Civil War. He served in the Ninth Regiment, Indiana Volunteers. What evidence can you provide that "he knows what he is talking about" in his telling of the story?

    2. Identify Bierce's uses of foreshadowing and how it creates tension and anticipation for his reader.

    3. Describe Bierce's literary devices and writing style in describing the rider (Section II, fourth paragraph). What facts does he disclose? What does he withhold (that we discover only at the end of the story)?

    4. Explain the metaphor in which he compares the rider to "a noble work of art."

    5. What examples of military etiquette or rules of conduct are described in the story? Why are these important?

    6. Discuss the recurring theme of betrayal throughout the story and provide examples.

    7. Based on the evidence Bierce provides (and doesn't), do you think Druse's father was an officer or civilian?

    8. Discuss Druse's decision process, whether to shoot the rider (whom we don't yet know is his father) and his statement: "Is it then so terrible to kill an enemy in war--an enemy who has surprised a secret vital to the safety of one's self and comrades--an enemy more formidable for his knowledge than all his army for its numbers?"

    9. Identify and analyze the Biblical references in the story.

    10. Read about Ambrose Bierce's life. Why do you think the author earned the nickname, "Bitter Bierce"?

    Essay prompt: Write the ending-- what will happen to Druse next? How will Druse be judged (by the Army, other soldiers, by his mother [who may never know], by God, can he live with his decision)?

    Compare another story's plot, setting, symbols, writing style, and struggles of conscience with A Horseman in the Sky:

      The Sniper, similar themes involving irony and moral choices during war time

      An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, considered Bierce's most famous story. To help with the story, check out our Study Guide

      The Sleeping Sentinel, a poem about William Scott, convicted of sleeping on duty

      The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (Act III)

      The Chimaera, the mythological flying horse and his rider, Bellerophon

      The Story of a Conscience, another Confederate spy, this one is captured behind enemy lines

      Biography and Works by Ambrose Bierce

      An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge Study Guide

      Civil War Battles in Western Virginia

      Virginia Soldiers: Who Fought and for Whom?

      Lesson plan & video for ELL: A Horseman in the Sky

      American Literature Lesson Plans: Edgar Allan Poe, Ambrose Bierce, and the Unreliable Biographers

      Analysis of A Horseman in the Sky

      Improve Your Civil War Vocabulary

      Spying in the Civil War

      Bierce's Early Life and Military Career

      The Ambrose Bierce Project War Photographs

      Mythological Gods and Monsters: The Nemean Lion

      Civil War Stories, Poems, and Novels

      Civil War Songs

      American History in Literature

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