E.L. Doctorow does some interesting work with narrative flow and character in The March, his historical novel of Sherman’s march to the sea. The march becomes a grand metaphor in Doctorow’s hands. A line of 90,000 men fighting, burning, looting, pillaging, freeing slaves, acting nobly and barbarously, is a type of barometer for the mutability of human nature.
Characters change their social roles as easily as shedding Confederate grey for Union blue. An extremely light skinned slave marries a white solider to enter the northern white community. Southerners quickly change allegiances and turn to the Union. Love turns to hate. Hate turns to love. Everything is in flux.
Doctorow captures a fluid time in American history, where so many things seemed possible. The March is both apt allegory and finely told tale.