“We must all do our bit…”

I have just started Not So Quiet and I am already angry. Yet again we see how those with power not only cause a war but also force others to fight it without them having to experience it themselves. This was shown a great deal in the last book and it is a recurring theme that we see in this book. Helen complains about how her family, especially her mother, forced her to join the war because she “must do her bit”. Her mother is so passionate about the war and all for it which is shown by her trying to recruit people through her committees yet has never actually experienced the war herself. It bothers me that the mother thinks that the war is all fun and games and is all about glory. She is extremely ignorant and if her daughter were to ever complain to her about the harshness and reality of war she would tell her that she is over-exagerating and that it is still her duty to help their country. Meanwhile her own daughter is risking her life everyday and her family has no idea. Besides being ignorant, her mother is also extremely selfish. She competes with one of the other mothers and thinks she is superior to her because she has two daughters whereas the other lady does not. She uses this to her advantage since she is also able to send both of her daughters to the war to help instead of just her son. Although these women in the story are not fighting they are still playing a huge role by helping the dying and injured men by driving them to hospitals. It is very noble of them to do this but at the same time these women are forced to do this deed due to the selfishness of their families and those in power.

10 thoughts on ““We must all do our bit…”

  1. The “do your bit” part really riled me up too. Smith explores this idea further and makes another interesting point, “the world seems determined to see nothing but a horrible, high-spirited, perpetual brightness in us” despite the ugliness and calamity of the war (Smith 135). It’s interesting to note how the men are expected to remain tough and stoic in the fight and the women are expected to stay cheery and positive. Both men and women serving during wartime were placed in situations where their very sanity was pressed into question; the idea of “doing their bit” and remaining smiling, walking propaganda seems very twisted to me.

  2. I hate how they are expected to do their jobs so exactly perfect and still be presentable the next morning when none of them have been able to practice good hygiene for fear of getting sick. There must be a level of shame there too; like if you get sent home sick your mother will shame you for not taking better care of yourself so that you could continue “doing your bit”

    • That’s what I thought too, Rachel. There definitely must be a level of shame associated with “not doing your bit.” I guess in the time of war, commanders needed a catchphrase like that to encourage the women to stay and do what they were supposed to do on the battlefields because of how disgusting their job truly was.

  3. Everytime I would read “do your bit” I would get more and more irritated. I get that it means doing your job and serving your country but it is very much an arbitrary phrase that just keeps getting under my skin. It definitely is a way of coercing people to do this, almost like a way of guilting someone into doing it.

    • The phrase is repeated so much too! It becomes almost a trigger-phrase to represent the deconstruction of the over-patriotic ignorance of those back home, specifically the mothers and complicit women. Every time we read the phrase “do your bit” we get Mad, like Smith wants us to be. In love with Smith’s language use, repetition and plotting of this text so far.

      • But also this repetition reminds me of how you can become desensitized to language as well. As in, you say something so much that it no longer has meaning. My favorite part from “Perks of Being a Wallflower” was when Charlie stands in the mirror and says his name over and over again and starts to question what does it mean or why is that his name? It is like Smith is trying to revoke all power and agency that this phrase has over the individuals and that is why she is saying it over and over again because eventually, it will be meaningless.

      • If they had today’s technology “do your bit” would be a meme and one of those repeating songs edited so that they’re ridiculously high pitched.

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