Just wanted to touch upon what was mentioned in class today about the scene where Nellie takes her Mother, Mrs Evans-Mawnington, and essentially us, on a tour of the men’s injuries, and the use of the direct address that allows us to bear witness to such a painful scene. Last lesson we talked about how the novel, in its opening stages, was very humorous, with the crude and sarcastic conversations the women, especially Tosh, hold, but I feel as we progress further into the novel this is just no longer the case. The reality of the situation is becoming more abstract as we read on, and its as if the humor we once had only served to disguise the true horrors that we are now starting to witness. Not just the physical aspect, in terms of the awful description of the men’s injures, but more specifically the mental aspect. We see The Bug completely losing her rationality and sense of self and her erratic behavior shows what the consequences of war can place on someone. We see Nellie driving the ‘screaming’ men to ‘Number Eight’ (pages 97-103), the italics of which serve to highlight the amount of damage, mentally, these men have experienced, so much so that we are given the impression that they have even started fighting each other in the back of the ambulance. The broken syntax can even be described as reflecting the broken bodies and minds of the men. And, finally, we see even Nellie begin to descend into a state of chaos with the way in which she responds to Tosh’s death and the fact that her sister Trix is now said to have ‘general depression’ (page 148). Almost everything around Nellie is beginning to crumble, and it seems as though her mind may even begin to disintegrate wholly too.
The novel is just no longer humorous, and it is clear based on the last few chapters we have read that such descriptions and events will only be getting worse, and as a reader, I have even started to question the future of Nellie’s mental well-being and even her life, (as Paul’s death in All Quiet on the Western Front was a shock to say the least).