Gas Masks and Peaches

When I was talking to my dad the other day, he told me how he and my grandparents checked out a mansion near our house. According to the tour guide, one of the owners of the house would pick peaches for the war. Apparently, 25 peach pits would be ground up into a powder like substance and mixed in with other stuff to use for gas masks to filter the gas sort of like a charcoal filter.

I found an article about it here.

https://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/02/what-america-looked-like-collecting-peach-pits-for-wwi-gas-masks/252294/

To think that peach picking, something I do with my mom for fun and to get lots of the tasty fruit, was used in WW1 to save lives.

Museum of Valor

Some spoilers for Daly and “Wedding Day”

Museum of Valor

            I went to the museum display at the library where I saw several uniforms from World War I. What I found interesting was the uniform of the British nurse. The uniforms consist of a white apron with a red cross on it, the small nurse hat, and a blue dress that has detachable white arm pieces. Apparently, the white would have been too hard to clean with field conditions, so they decided to make the dresses blue. The detachable white arm pieces allowed for them to be easily washed. This surprised me as in one of the books we read in class, the nurse that greets the men is described as a being in white.

            There was also a display on African Americans in the war. It was described that they were all volunteering quickly and that several more training camps had to be established because of the enthusiasm. However, even in the war, they were treated terribly by the Americans and were one of the last groups of people to get supplies. However, the French gave them supplies and treated them as equals. This made me think of the wedding story where the main character Paul is fine with the French even if he does not want to marry a French girl, but he hates Americans. This hate is deserved though as the one incident described where he meets American men is France has him attacking the men after they call him the “n” word. This also reminded me of Daly’s story where Bob ends up getting Montie court marshaled because he is staying at the house of a French woman even though he and his group were ordered to stay there for the break. The French girl treats Montie nicely and her contempt for Bob can be seen when she questions him and becomes upset with how he treats Montie. It is interesting to see how different nationalities have influenced people’s views on race.

Katelyn Wolfgang’s Bridge to the Blog Two

Today in class, we discussed Aymo’s virgins. Many commented that while Hemingway appears to want Aymo to be seen as a good man, he ends up using his power to tease the girls and it scares them. Some said he was not a good man for doing this and that it was disgusting. I personally believe that he is a good man in that he is protecting them, but that it was wrong for him to tease them and that if he had continued to push it, he would not be a good man. Do you think Aymo is a good person or a bad person and why?

In the books that we have read in class, the women on the front end up being seen as something for the men to use for pleasure. The nurses are seen as healers, but also a means of pleasure. Trix in Not So Quiet… tells her sister that if the men do not flirt with you, then something is wrong with you. Women are also paid for sex, whether they are from a brothel or not. Paul ends up paying the French girls with bread in order to feed them in return for sex. Frederick comments that, while on his vacation, he had ended up haggling about the price of having sex with the women he slept with. The idea of women as objects just for sex is largely prevalent in war literature.

Catherine tells Frederick that she does not want their time together to be a nurse’s night off, meaning she does not want to sleep with him like he seems to expect. While in the end, Catherine does consent to have sex with Frederick, she switches between her ideals and he continues to push her to always accept. Is Frederick to forceful and can Catherine’s agreement to have sex count as true consent because of her feelings of grief as well as her precarious mental state, as shown by her sudden changes in emotion and personality?

Right before the retreat, the men end up seeing some of the new girls from the brothel being loaded into a car and talk about how they would want to have a night with them, saying “I’d like to have a crack at them for nothing” and that the house charges to much for them to sleep with the women (Hemingway 189). This scene is less than ten pages from where Frederick and his men pick up the virgins. Do you believe that Aymo was doing more than just teasing the girls, especially by giving them food, something that Paul does with the French girls to pay for their service? Do you believe that the girls had a real reason to fear the men? Do you think Hemingway put the scene of the women from the brothels near the scene with the virgins for a reason? Also, based on how the other two books have portrayed women on the front as being seen as largely for sex, that these girls may end up becoming like the French girls later on if they cannot find their family or are captured?

I believe that Hemingway put the two scenes of the brothel girls and the virgins close together to get readers to think about this idea, but to also show that Aymo is a good man by not forcing himself on them even though they had recently commented about wanting to have sex, even if he was still wrong and not a good person for teasing and terrifying the girls. I believe that the virgins do have something to fear, if not from Frederick and the ambulance drivers, at least from some of the other soldiers based on their reactions to what is being said and done. It can be seen that they understand that food can be used as a form of payment for sex, so they have some form of knowledge about the idea of women on the front. Do you think this knowledge is from stories they have heard or do you believe they may have witnessed other girls their age selling their bodies in order to get food and money? I feel it is likely a combination of both based on where they are as well as how large this idea is in the other works we have read for class. I do not think that they will end up like the French girls, based on that they are moving away from the front. However, I do believe that they should still worry as they are on the front and they are now going off by themselves. While I believe that in the end they did not have anything to fear from Aymo and the other drivers, I do not see Aymo as a good man for teasing them and I worry that their fear may become a reality based on where they are and how they are now alone until they can rejoin the group of civilians they saw.

Katelyn Wolfgang’s Bridge to the Blog

At the end of class today, we discussed Tosh’s death and what it could mean. Several students commented that Nellie’s reaction was because Tosh was her friend while others suggested that Tosh was the foundation that held the others up and gave them hope. I agree with both of these. Tosh’s death broke the hope Nellie had as she was her source of stability with her practicality and pushing to keep them moving. Nellie did not come to the front with friends like Paul did and Tosh was the friend and force that helped her out.

Like Paul and Kat, Nellie looked up to Tosh as someone to listen to and follow. After Tosh cut her hair, Nellie eventually cuts her own even though she knows her mother will not approve. When they are watching the show with the Germans, Tosh ends up translating the remarks the men make about them. Even though Nellie started out feeling uncomfortable and exposed, she states that, “[Tosh] made me see the funny side of it” (pg 143). Tosh allows Nellie to relax and escape the stress of the war by providing humor and logic to the situation. Like with Paul being able to relax with Kat so much that they are like lovers, Tosh presents this easy-going and approachable front that lets most people in and allows them to relax even with the war going on outside their door.

With losing Tosh and Kat, both Paul and Nellie end up breaking because they lose their friend, mentor, and shield. It is repeatedly stated that they are unable to trust the older generation at home because they have just tossed them into war and instead do nothing themselves. For both of them, they are not able to reveal the reality of the war to their family. Nellie is not even able to reveal the full reality of the war to her sister Trix who is also participating in the war. To me, I feel that Tosh and Kat were not only friends to Nellie and Paul but also parental figures, ones that had more experience, knowledge, and wisdom to pass down and who looked after them. It is commented that Tosh has a motherly figure and that “[Nellie had] adored her since the first night [she] arrived” (pg 11). Nellie reveals that that first night, Tosh was the one to get her focused and help her deal with being an ambulance driver, similar to a parent taking care of their child. I would like to present the idea that Tosh was not only a friend and a symbol of hope to Nellie, but also a maternal figure to Nellie and others in the way she took care of them. She was able to act as a replacement for Nellie’s own mother, who sent her out into war and seemed to not care about the danger of it. As the more experienced member in the group, Tosh was the parental figure they could trust unlike the ones at home that forced them into war and her dying was similar to a child losing their parent while they are still young. Does anyone else see Tosh as a mother figure, or based on her humor and attitude, possibly a father figure instead? Also, as was discussed last class about the breaking of gender and how Tosh’s figure is both masculine and feminine, could she fall into both the maternal and paternal roles of parenthood?

Hysteria vs Shellshock Treatment

Treatment for shellshock in men usually involved pain and punishment. One popular method was electric shock therapy where an electric current would be placed on the problem area such as along the spine if the individual suffering from shellshock had difficulty walking. Men would also be shamed as a form of treatment. Another way of treating shellshock was forcing people to do things they disliked and refusing to allow them to do things they liked. This lead to individuals who did not want to be alone being isolated or those that disliked noise being placed near loud noises such as main roads.

These treatment of shellshock, what was considered the male version of hysteria, were horrible. What is interesting is that on the opposite side, hysteria for women was treated with pleasure. Hysteria was believed to be caused by the uterus and was first named in the 5th century BC by Hippocrates. Symptoms included not only fainting and outbursts but also sexual thoughts. A “cure” that many medical experts endorsed was to massage the woman’s pelvic area. This “cure” also lead to the invention of the vibrator as a way for women to treat hysteria at home without the aid of a doctor.

It is interesting that while shellshock was treated with pain, hysteria was treated with pleasure. It brings the question of how treatments and history would differ if female hysteria had been treated like how shellshock was during WWI or how shellshock victims would have reacted if their male hysteria was treated as female hysteria was.

Information on shellshock treatment from: http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWmental.htm

Information on female hysteria treatment from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/21/female-hysteria_n_4298060.html

Bombardment

In chapter 4 of All Quiet on the Western Front, the soldiers end up hiding in a graveyard of fallen soldiers when they are attacked by a bombardment of shells. At the end of the chapter, the narrator (Paul) and his friend Kat find another soldier who has had his hip blasted by a shell into shards, leaving it a giant, minced mess. The two start to help the man; however, Kat brings up the idea of shooting the man to put him out of his misery and Paul ends up agreeing. However, they end up not doing it because they find they are surrounded then by other people.

This part surprised me at first; however, I could later understand why they would do it as most of the people that got an injury like that back then would not survive. They even comment that he will never be able to walk again. However, even though I do agree, I do not believe that I would be able to shoot a man in the head to put them out of their misery, such as with an animal. And I am not certain I would end up agreeing to shoot the man as Paul did. I wanted to know, would you be willing to shoot the man? Why or why not? And if not, is it because you disagree with Paul’s decision or do you understand why he agreed?