Before the semester is over…

What was your favorite piece we read this semester? Why?

Or, what is something you didn’t expect to learn in this class, but did?

Or! What was the most shocking thing we talked about, read, or found this semester?

The Power and Ethics of Language

I think the point of literature is to encapsulate the human experience in any way it can, but, as we talked about in class, I often feel conflicted about who can write about what and how authentic the encapsulation of the truth is. In the words of Prof. Rochelle, all text stems from an initial truth. At what point though are we willing to accept an authors’ credentials but deny the experiences they write about?

I think collectively we’ve agreed that Not So Quiet, even though it has been written by someone who never first-hand experienced the war, was based so much on personal experience, that we approve of it as an accurate retelling of the war. With The Forbidden Zone, we’ve read in the author’s note that the broken retelling is a stylistic representation of the war, and we can inherently agree that the text is an authentic one. But are books like A Farewell to Arms that lie so heavily in a fictional story-line, authentic and as worthy of telling as the others?

Video on British Soldier’s Kits

So a couple weeks ago some videos of women’s fashion and VAD Nurse outfits were posted and they were extremely interesting. Well, I guess my computer knows I am in a class about WWI so my youtube is recommending to me WWI related videos. So, here is a video about British Soldiers and their kits during the war that I thought I would share with you all.

Morgan’s Bridge to the Blog

Hey guys! So today in class we spent a lot of time talking about the relationship between Catherine (Cat) and Frederic Henry’s relationship in the novel. We talked about the layers of their relationship, how they pretend that the hospital room and the hotel room is their own little house and even contemplated if their relationship was real or fake. Obviously, both Cat and Henry have some personal things going on and maybe that is why they are together, they could be a comfort for each other in some weird way. Being someone who has always been in love with the idea of being in love, I got really caught up in the romantic relationships we have seen so far this semester.

But how does the portrayal of love in “All Quiet,” “Not So Quiet,” and “A Farewell to Arms” do? How are they similar or different? Have we seen the type of relationship that Henry and Cat have before?

I think this all goes back to the glorification of wartime and the idea that everything works out in the end. It is the true romantic story: man goes off to war, gets injured, a pretty nurse takes care of him, nurses him back to health, they fall in love and get married, have a family and live happily ever after. Super sappy and in the end everything is wrapped up nicely with a pretty little bow and they live in a house with a white picket fence. It is like this was the dream of the time, the type of relationship people adored and wished themselves to be in. Pictures from this time and posters like that of which Dr. Scanlon showed us in class today add to this belief of the romanticized war.

However, we have already seen how Henry and Cat’s relationship deviates from this idea since she gets pregnant out of wedlock. Their mental states, their perspectives, and their actual relationship is everything outside of what the desired relationship was. So, could their relationship be here to mock this idea of romance during the wartime or is it an accurate depiction of two broken people finding relief and comfort within one another which makes life a little more bearable? And if so, what is trying to be shown here? Now, thinking back to our other books, how about the relationship Nellie finds herself in at the end of “Not So Quiet”? We discussed how she said she would never marry someone who was in the war and was injured because it would be a constant reminder of the things she witnessed, however, she gets engaged to Roy and accepts him even after his injury. Does this make their relationship the same as Henry and Cat’s? If so how? Do you think that these relationships that we see in these wartime stories are parodying the expectations that everyone believed would happen at the time, making fun of the dreams young women had of falling in love with brave soldiers, or do you think that they are just showing the actual “romance” that would come about during a time like this?

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Class discussion

Today in class we were discussing mythical language and the angels in the short stories we read for today. The discussion made me think of how Paul and Nellie didn’t want to talk to those at home about their war experiences or show off that they had really “been in it”. Paul made up stories or told half truths in order to please his dad and the people back at home without damaging himself with the truth. The short stories and poems talking about the angels and visions of dead Germans may not be factually true but they are as much of the truth as the soldiers can tell and therefore become the truth for those at home. The “true” stories of the angels in the battlefield spread and become fact. The feelings in those stories could actually be true; the soldiers could have felt as though the strategies or weapons they were told to switch to could have felt like divine intervention or guardian angels saving them from death.

Who Has the Right?

In class this morning Dr. Scanlon posed the question (and I’m paraphrasing here) “does Helen Zenna Smith have the right to write about a war she wasn’t actively involved in?” I’m curious about what everyone thinks. I think that because HZS based the story on a first-person account, she DOES have the authority to write about the war. Does anyone agree? Disagree?

An Odd Appreciation of Death

In both All Quiet on the Western Front and Not So Quiet, we see such an odd appreciation for the escape from war death brings. In All Quiet, Paul and Kat see the dying recruit and consider shooting him to putting him out of his misery. In Not So Quiet, Helen sees in chapter two that one of the men she was transporting in her ambulance has died and says “He died as the stretcher-bearers lifted him out. I was glad…Out of hell at last” (Smith 40).

This disturbing appreciation of death is really jarring to me. Did anyone else have any similar reactions?