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The Naked Citadel Essay

Established in 1842 as a public military college, the Citadel was a college filled with many traditions and full of pride that seemed to discriminate against female applicants. However, the Citadel’s way of accepting and admitting students can be easily challenged and argued. In Susan Faludi’s essay, “The Naked Citadel”, Malcolm Gladwell’s essay, “The Power of Context”, and Tim O’Brien’s essay, “How to Tell a True War Story”, the authors came to the same conclusion that the actions of the individual are influenced by their behavior.

Gladwell’s theories about the environment and human behaviors helps explain the changes that occurred at the Citadel. The Broken Windows Theory helps explain how the traditions of the Citadel grew and how the tradition managed to stay firm. The Tipping point theory helps explain the actions the people at the Citadel took when their traditions came into question. Gladwell’s theories explain how the growth and stability of tradition at The Citadel influenced people at the institution to hinder the overall growth of the school.

Gladwell’s Broken Windows theory is applicable to Faludi’s essay “The Naked Citadel” because it explains how the Citadel’s traditions were established and how it grew. The Broken Windows theory states, “If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and the sense of anarchy will spread from the building to the street on which it faces, sending a signal that anything goes” (Gladwell 152). When people witness crimes and nothing is done to stop the crimes, they tend to get the idea that it is permitted to commit a crime.

In this case, it would be okay to commit a crime, because no one cares enough to stop a crime from happening. At The Citadel, the broken windows theory is explained through the example of hazing that occurs at the Citadel. Hazing has become a tradition. The Citadel was built on the foundation to turn boys into real men. The Citadel’s foundation lead to the creation of the freshmen regimen also known as the “fourth-class system” and “knobs. ” The original intentions of the military academy was to “strip each recruit of his identity and remold him into the ‘Whole Man” (Faludi 76).

A person who has a weak sense of self-identity can be easily manipulated therefore making it easier to change someone, compared to one who have a strong sense of self-identity. To completely remold an individual, the individual has to be completely broken down and not have any remains or fragments of the old self. If the Citadel did not go about it with negative results, the foundation and the remolding of the identity could have been for a good cause. The Citadel’s way of making these new men was cruel, malevolent and unusual.

The freshmen were hazed and abused from upperclassmen who they had to obey. The hazing was not reported for fear of repercussion by the upperclassmen. Since the hazing was not reported, it continued to happen. The hazing gets progressively worse and people will start to join in, because nothing was done about it, so it appears okay to haze. This a good example of the broken windows theory. In Tim O’Brien’s essay, the smoking grenade game is another example of the broken windows theory.

In his essay, Curt Lemon and Bob Kiley invented a game to play during their spare times. The game involved smoke grenades, which were harmless unless you did stupid things, and what they did was pull out the pin and stand a few feet apart and play catch under the shade of those huge trees. Whoever chickened out was a yellow mother. And if nobody chickened out, the grenade would make a light popping sound and they’d be covered with smoke and they’d laugh and dance around and then do it again” (O’Brien 317). The game could lead to deadly consequences.

Everyone is watching or playing the game, yet no one is thinking about the possible dangers ssociated with tossing a grenade. If the grenade was overthrown, it could set off a hidden booby trap or alert the enemy of their location. If you did not play you would be called a ‘yellow mother’. There was a hidden pressure to join in the game. Since no one wants to be called a yellow mother or get beaten up for snitching, everyone has to play along and pretend not to notice the fact that a ticking grenade was being causally thrown around. Curt and Bob can continue to railroad people into playing this dangerous game despite the dangers associated with it.

The hazing and the smoking grenade game are both good examples of the broken window theory. The staff and administers that work within and around the Citadel are good at controlling the environment of the Citadel. Gladwell explains how humans adapt and respond to different circumstances and environment through traits like character, behavior and attitude. As Gladwell states, character “is not a stable, easily identifiable set of closely related traits but is rather more like a bundle of habits and tendencies and interests, loosely bound together and dependent, at certain times, on circumstance and context” (Gladwell 160).

Character is all the aspects of an individual’s behavior and attitudes that make up that individual’s personality. An individual does not have one characteristic nor can character be so easily defined. Instead, a person’s character, according to Gladwell’s definition, is dependent on the context, circumstances and the environment. These environmental and different circumstances bring out different sides of the individual and these different sides leads to a different character.

At the Citadel, cadets are able to create their own small world and “feel called to defend those walls,” because some things in their lives are “endangered from without” (Faludi 103). For this reason, the Citadel not only is a place for the cadets to exonerate their feelings but a place for them to become a leader and gain the sense of being a winner. Not only that, “The military stage set offers a false front and a welcome trapdoor – an escape hatch from the social burdens of traditional masculinity” (Faludi 210). The Citadel was created to have an environment that foster an image of being the ideal man in the cadets.

However, the cadets did not portray that image. Instead, the cadets felt like they were in womanly roles, like taking care of other cadets and helping each other with problems. The cadets saw these behavior as something mothers would do. In their minds, this behavior is not something men would do. Men were tough and do not share problems. They can also take care of it themselves. The upperclassmen cadets acted masculine by abusing the freshmen and haze others. The upperclassmen behavior was to cover up the emotional side of them.

The burden to become a men at the Citadel made the cadets fail to learn how and when to portray their different characters and different sides. One example would be when O’Brien talks about the water buffalo. “He opened up a can of C rations, pork and beans, but the baby buffalo wasn’t interested. Rat shrugged. He stepped back and shot it through the right front knee. The animal did not make a sound… It wasn’t to kill; it was to hurt… The whole platoon stood there watching… but there wasn’t a great deal of pity for the baby water buffalo” (O’Brien 321).

When O’Brien describes Rat Kiley injuring the baby water buffalo, he never said anything about insanity, rather he explains that it is a man finding whatever relief he can from the deep grief he got after losing his best friend. In Gladwell’s essay, he mentions a third theory called the tipping point theory. The tipping point can be use to describe the point at which a series of small changes becomes significant enough to cause a larger change. The tipping point can also be a situation in which a minor development precipitates in to a crisis.

According to Gladwell, “It says that crime is contagious – just as a fashion trend is contagious – that it can start with a broken window and spread to an entire community. The Tipping Point in this epidemic, though, isn’t a particular kind of person… It’s something physical like graffiti. The impetus to engage in a certain kind of behavior is not coming from a certain kind of person but from a feature of the environment” (152). Faludi’s research of small communities, including the Citadel, lies claim to Gladwell’s tipping point theory.

Faludi supports Gladwell’s claim about a character’s ability to adapt towards the habits and ideals of society. She also demonstrates an individual’s capacity for modification in these behaviors which are often caused by a tipping point. When Faulkner was accepted at the Citadel, the cadets where not happy. Faulkner felt that majority of men “defend their inner humanity with an outer brutality” (Faludi 282). In order to avoid any ridicule against them, men feel like they need to hide their true emotional state.

Since the end of the 19th century, men have always been the breadwinner and the alpha male. Females stayed at home cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the children. Because men always played the dominant role, they feel entitled to inflict pain and harm onto women when they do not listen or behave. According to Faludi, it is simply bad habits. Cases of abuse still occurred among cadets, despite the fact that no women was presence at the college. Despite being taught on how to become a men, cadets still feel like they have motherly roles.

Therefore by admitting the first female, chaos and disorder occurred at the Citadel. Furthermore, the Citadel’s tradition got in the way of them advancing like other military colleges (i. e. Norwich University) who made an effort to recruit women into their institution. Instead, the Citadel decided to stick with the prejudiced views against women. However the issues arises in what we, the general population, can accept or deny to believe, and whether it is possible for anyone to even properly tell a true war story. As O’Brien describes it: A true war story is never moral.

It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue… nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged…. you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie (O’Brien 316. ) Tim O’Brien’s point is that nobody knows the reality of war except for those who have been there and fought the war or those who have already fought in a war. Fighting a war is a difficult task that takes courage and strength.

Henceforth, the immediate context is just a trigger that gives opportunity for people to behave in a certain way. The context is so powerful that many people’s behavior, like the cadets, are more susceptible to being influenced by it rather than inner thoughts. While one’s inner personalities are fundamental of their behavior, those certain behavior does not result from certain situations. If one is an absolute good person without deviant thoughts, he or she would never take out a gun and shoot another human or even think about hazing.

The Tipping Point theory shows how someone like Shannon Faulkner could jeopardize the long tradition single handedly, but the people at The Citadel would not let their tradition be broken down. Gladwell’s theories work hand in hand with what happened at The Citadel and explain the growth of tradition but not growth overall. Not only that, O’Brien writes about how war story are never told as a truth but rather a lie as to what people want to hear. Thus, the growth and living environment are real causes that build people’s characteristics which can lead to certain behaviors.

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