The first step that we are going to take to know the meaning of the term deserter is to discover its etymological origin. In this case, we can state that it is a word that derives from Latin, exactly from “desertor, desertoris”, which can be translated as “the one who abandons”.
The one who deserts is classified as a deserter. The action of deserting can refer to setting aside ideals, turning away from a cause, or, in the case of a soldier, abandoning his flag from him.
In the military, desertion is a crime. That is why the deserter can be tried under military law and suffer different kinds of sanctions: even, depending on the case, the death penalty.
A military man is considered to be a deserter when he abandons his post or his duty in the context of a war. Suppose that, in the middle of an invasion or a battle, a soldier decides to withdraw from his assigned post and leaves the conflict zone. This situation makes him a deserter.
In relation to this meaning, we have to state that there is a novel that has the term in question in its title. We are referring to the book “The Deserter”, written by Siegfried Lenz. It was published 65 years after its creation, because in 1952 it was seen as an unpatriotic work.
Specifically, it comes to tell the story of some soldiers from the Wehrmacht unit, whose mission is to guarantee a train line on what is the Eastern Front. Those are abandoned by their own troops, which will lead each one to try to think of different aspects to keep their minds clear and let themselves sink into reality.
Among all these is the young Walter Proska who will consider not only who is the real enemy but also if conscience or duty is more important. What’s more, even he won’t get out of his mind a young Polish woman with whom he has fallen in love who goes by the name of Wanda.
Likewise, there is also an American film from 1966 entitled “The Deserter” and which was directed by Raoul Lévy. Montgomery Clift, Hardy Krüger and Roddy McDowall lead the cast of this film about espionage during the Cold War.
The person who refuses to comply with a military order can make a conscientious objection, explaining that he refuses to comply with the corresponding service for some moral or religious reason. According to the treatment given to this measure, the objector may be considered a deserter.
The idea of school desertion, on the other hand, alludes to the abandonment of school by a student. It is unusual, however, for a student who drops out of school to be called a dropout.
In colloquial language, finally, deserter is said to be the subject who stops visiting a place he used to attend frequently or who no longer accompanies those who were his fellow militants. For example: “There’s the deserter! He hasn’t come to the club for months”, “The Conservative Party decided to formally expel the militant deserter”, “A deserter from the guerrilla group provided useful information to the government authorities”.