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The Ajax DilemmaJustice, Fairness, and Rewards$
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Paul Woodruff

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199768615

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199768615.001.0001

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(p.3) Ajax
The Ajax Dilemma

Paul Woodruff

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents examples to illustrate how the story of Ajax plays out in real-life situations. General Ulysses S. Grant, for instance, can be considered a modern Ajax in his use of words as well as in his military actions. Grant was a fine general despite being a poor student at the US Military Academy. His military doctrine was simple: “Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can and as soon as you can, and keep moving on.” Grant was also a man of few words who hated making speeches, even as a politician. But, like Ajax, at the end of his life, he produced plenty of words when he most needed them for a best-selling memoir that he wrote in order to save his family from poverty after his death. Another example is the Vietnam War, which called for an Odysseus to fight the insurgency, but was given to an Ajax, General William Westmoreland. In Ibsen's Doll's House the wife Nora, like Ajax, saves the life she thinks most important to her, the life of the man she loves. And, like Ajax, she pulls away when she sees that her contribution is not valued. But unlike Ajax, she chooses to live, to carve out independence through education.

Keywords:   Ajax, Ulysses S. Grant, Civil War, Vietnam War, William Westmoreland, Doll's House, Odysseus

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