To the Top Together

By Aabha S., 7th Grade

December 2020

In his novel Banner in the Sky, James Ramsey Ullman teaches us that teamwork and putting others’ needs first is essential to success. Ullman shows us this theme through the challenges his characters face as they climb the Citadel.

Since Franz stays behind to help an injured Captain Winter, Saxo abandons his team to make an attempt at reaching the top by himself. Saxo hurts himself which ruins all chances of climbing the Citadel. Because Saxo chooses to focus on his own ambition, he ultimately fails.

In fact, Saxo hurts himself when he is yelling at Rudi for following him up the mountain.  Now that Saxo is hurt, Rudi faces a choice. He doesn’t know whether to keep striving for the top, or to stay and help Saxo, until he thinks about his heroic father: “The mountaintop was gone; the dream was gone; the numbness of dream was slowly dissolving, and in its place was clearness. Clearness as deep and cold and pure as the mountain sky” (270). Even though Rudi is conflicted, after he thinks of his father and his compassion, there isn’t even a choice any more. Every bit of him that used to dream of reaching the top of the Citadel is gone. His only choice is clear, and he finally picks helping Saxo over pursuing his dream. After ignoring his lifelong dream, he is rewarded, while Saxo, who is selfish, is penalized with injuries. and the shame of not reaching the top.

While Rudi is attending to Saxo, Franz and Winter make their way to the top of the Citadel. Eventually, all four of the travelers get to Kurtal where there is a large celebration because Franz and Winter reached the top. When Winter calls Rudi the conqueror of the Citadel, he gestures to look through the telescope at the mountain peak.“From its highest point there rose a pole. And from the pole, tied by its two sleeves, a red shirt streamed like a banner against the shining sky” (283). The banner hanging high in the sky represents teamwork. Since Rudi and his father couldn’t make it to the top, Franz and Winter carried on their dream. Rudi and his father put that  banner up at the top just as much as Winter and Franz did.

In conclusion, great achievements are only possible with good teammates that will ignore their own ambition to help another.