Gas masks and my Grandfather

I found it really interesting in Owen’s poem “Dulce et Decorum Est” how he describes one of the soldiers who failed to get their gas mask on time and the effects of that.

This made an impact on me because of a story my Grandfather told me many times about when he was in the army in WWII.  One of the stories he told was that when he was training to fight he had to do many things he did not like, such as raming a hanging sandbag with a bayonet and learning how to get it unstuck, such as placing your foot on the sandbag (person) and shoving them away.  He said that while he did not like doing that even in practice, it was drilled into them that it was nessasary becuase of they lost their weapon they were dead.

One day while training, my grandfather was put into a gas chamber with several other people.  Everyone had their gas masks strapped onto them and they began to let the gas into the chamber.  My grandfather tells me that he remembers starting to get very dizzy and that he could not think straight.  After he collapsed they turned the gas off and rushed him to the medical unit, realizing that his gas mask had had a fatal flaw in it.  After that my Grandfather was not allowed to fight in the war anymore.  He was still in the military, just not allowed to actually fight.  My Grandfather is a gentle soul, and no doubt is glad that he never had to test that sandbag technique out on a real person.

I was wondering, how much worse would it have been if this particular soldier had gotten his mask on and yet still been killed?  Is what he felt similar to what my grandfather felt?  Or were the types of gas much different?  I also wish I knew if that mask was destroyed or repaired and given to another soldier.  It would be so cool to know; since that would mean that my grandfathers fate in that incident would have helped to save another’s life on the front lines.

 

The Hypocrisy!

Okay so, I finished the book and I have words.

Casper’s hypocrisy when talking to Montie when he finds him in the house of a white woman is insane.  He was with a black woman and he is yelling at Montie for potentially being with someone of the other race.  I just…the hypocrisy…my God. Plus the fact that he didn’t answer Miriam’s letter!  He let this encounter get to him so much that he’s willing to mess up the realtionship he has gained with Miriam to protect his ego.  Well, I personally don’t think Miriam likes him at all but he was willing to stop a relationship that he himself believes in just because of race.  THEN!  He threatened Montie!  And he actually got away with it!  He was so angered by the fact that he was living in a white woman’s house (because of orders but he didn’t care one bit did he) he court-martialled him and took his rank.  I hated him so much by this part.  Casper claims to be a man who cares about black people (what with the schools and all) but he is just as racist as most people in this time period.

And Montie, oh boy, he is too good for his own good.  Helping Casper like that.  Then they freaking die together.  I almost threw my book.

So yeah, What the heck.

Miriam and Paul

I thought it was interesting that in both The Marriage and Not Only War, characters had their minds changed about white people through becoming close with nice individuals (or individuals that appeared nice) who were white.   It made me think if this would be the journey for more characters in Not Only War, would they all come to terms with each others race or will blood be spilled? Though Paul ended up worse off by the end, it makes me wonder if that will be Miriam’s journey as well.

I’m also very interested to see how far this love triangle goes and what happens because of it.  Poor Montie is just being strung along at this point, even though Miriam seems not to be very much into Casper yet.  The pace of the book suggests that she will like him more I think.  I have a feeling that Casper is going to be in the war in charge of him causing more tension.

What did everyone else think about this first section and the reading we had with it?  Do you think characters will learn to get along regardless of race or will things go even worse?  What do you think about the “love triangle”?

Madhouse of an Operating Room

After reading the “In the Operating Room” chapter of The Forbidden Zone, I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been, of the absolute madhouse of a working environment for the doctors and nurses.  Seeing then have three different patients, with a variety of illnesses, and three sets of doctors in the same room talking over each other was chaotic and disconcerting.  I am surprised that they were able to get their jobs done even a bit correctly when there are so many patients that need to be seen and attended to at one time.

What did you all think?  Did you expect the hospital to be so crowded and unmanageable?

Baby and Catherine

I thought it was interesting to see all of the talk from Fredrick and Cathrine about the baby, as it was kinda disturbing to me.  Such as the lines, “He had something in his two hands that looked like a freshly skinned rabbit and hurried across the corridor with it.” (324), or the line by Cathrine “She won’t come between us, will she?  The little brat” (304) and when the doctor asks Frederick if he is proud of his son, he replies “No, he nearly killed his mother” (325) and he even says he feels no feeling of fatherhood.  They pretty obviously don’t want this child and wish it wasn’t going to be born.  But, if they actually do wish to have the kid, then they are some pretty pessimistic/messed up parents.

Also, I thought it was really interesting that Catherine ends up dying of a hemorrhage just like the man at the beginning of the novel that hemorrhaged above Fredrick on the way to the hospital right after Fredrick was injured.  I thought it was a nice way to tie the beginning to the end of the book.  It also made me think about how the blood that washed over Fredrick, in the beginning, could symbolize the blood he has on his hands for Cathrine’s death.  As emphasized by Ferguson many times throughout the book that Fredrick would end up hurting and or getting Cathrine pregnant or in a bad situation.

Nellie and Home Life

The way Nellie is treated after she gets home is absolutely despicable!  She has just been in war, but everyone thinks she is overreacting because she wasn’t in the thick of it and was not a soldier.  Her mother’s attitude to her alone made me hate her much more than I ever hated Mrs. Bitch.  She’s so preoccupied with how she will look to others because of her daughter’s “disgrace” that she doesn’t see that her daughter is freaking traumatized.  OH!  And the one line I cannot believe was said! “At least they have died doing their duty.” (pg.185).  What.  The. Hell.  She just said to her own daughters face that she would rather Nellie to have died doing her duty than come home from war and not help to war effort anymore.  That kind of selfabsorption is evil.  I honestly loved it when Nellie told her mother she burned her uniform and that she was not going back to the war.  That was great, but I knew her mother was going to blow up at her.  But to say something like that to your own child, she’s not a mother, she’s just an evil woman who will do whatever she can to get what she wants.  Maybe she hasn’t always been that way, and I hope she won’t stay that way, but who she is now, I’d be disgraced to call her my mother.

Side note: The letter from The BF killed me a bit inside, especially the line: “I’m just aching to know the details of poor, dear Tosh’s sad death.  It must have been too thrilling, though very, very tragic.” (pg.179)  I understand that Tosh spoke her mind and was a little vulgar but this vultures curiosity is despicable.  I doubt very much that she is sad Tosh died, she just wants the good gossip about how “her inseparable friend” died.

Wars Effects

I was really surprised that at the beginning of this book I found myself laughing out loud at a lot of the dialog and very direct statements made in the book.  Coming from such as sad story as All Quiet, this was refreshing.

I really like how we are seeing a new side of the war that is horrifying in its own ways.  The insaneness of Mrs. Bitch reminds me of Himmelstoss and how his demands were intense too.  I can’t for the life of me understand why Mrs. Bitch is so jaded and non-understanding.  Simple explanations that are easily proven true are disregarded for what she believes as true.  Her opinions are fact.  I can’t say I’ve never met anyone like that though.  Unwilling to listen to anyone and thinking that their word is law.  All main characters also have a big grudge against both of them and fantasize about hurting/killing them.  After reading about everything Mrs. Bitch is doing I can honestly relate.  I never realized just how much the women in this field suffered, my focus was always on the men at the front and how the war was for them.  War effects everyone and in all kinds of different and messed up ways.  I suppose I just forgot that while learning about war.  Which is a shame because while the men went through hell that doesn’t mean that they were the only ones to go through hell at this point.

 

Shell Shock and Wonder Woman

As we’ve been learning about WWI I was reminded of the movie Wonder Woman and while it has some things wrong and obviously superheroy about WWI, I like how it shows Charlies PTSD as shown in this scene below.

There was another scene I liked that had Charlie basically trying to leave and saying that he was no use anymore because he can’t shoot a gun because of his Shell Shock.  But they get him to stay by asking “Who will sing for us?” showing a deep camaraderie between everyone and how he does help by keeping their spirits high.

 

If anyone else noticed anything in the movie about this I’d love to know!

 

Informational Video

I found this really interesting video about WWI here that is about a few creepy photos taken during the war and the history behind them.  Warning for some of the pictures being disturbing (disfigured faces).  In the video they talk about The Wall Of Masks, Russian Gas Masks, Battle of Passchendaele: Dead Forest, The Armoured Soldier, and The Shell Shocked Soldier.  It’s close to 8 minutes long.