English Language Assignment 1
Writing based on a piece or pieces from section B of the anthology Compare the different portrayals of war and its effect on the lives of the individuals featured in “The Last Night” and “Disabled”
‘The Last night’ is an extract from the novel, Charlotte Gray, and describes the hours before the Jews in the Ghetto were taken to an extermination camp in France. Set in the 1940s, the extract is based on the holocaust, a genocide in which six million or more European Jews were taken away. Out of the six million, over one million were children. ‘The Last Night’ conveys heavily the innocence of children and the contrast between adult and child, as the adults are described as calm, knowing what will happen and the children as having no idea of the situation. ‘Disabled’ is a poem by Wilfed Owen, based on the injured soldiers during World War One. While ‘The Last night’ deals with the issue of the suffering of the innocent, ‘Disabled’ illustrates the glorification of war by propaganda and the realism of war by comparing the past and the present of the underage Scottish recruit. Of the 60 million European soldiers who participated in the Great War, 8 million were killed, 15 million were seriously injured and 7 million were permanently disabled. Our main character, who lost both of his legs and his will to live, is only one of the 7 million people. In the poem ‘Disabled’, we can see that war has different effects on different individuals. For example, our main character, changed from someone that was “Younger than his youth, last year” to what is now “Now, he is old; his back will never brace;”, from the lines, you could see that under the intense pressure during his duty, he has aged rapidly, possibly from witnessing or experiencing a great deal of pain or horror. The phrase ‘last year’, suggest clearly that war could change one of the healthiest and optimistic to a pessimistic, weak and delicate person in merely a year, showing the devastating nature of war and its effect on a person’s mentality. The main character also suffered physically, losing all ‘his color’ and ‘poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry’. This visual imagery is the best portrait as of the true nature of war, as soldiers in the front line start to lose the will to live simply because of the bloody and gruesome horror happening in the battlefield, thus linking to the opening verse, “He sat in the wheeled chair, waiting for dark,”. The soldier wishes to cease to exist as the noun ‘dark’ symbolizes death and the wheel chair is the constant reminder of the horror which happened on the battlefield. The protagonist is also described as an anti-social being, as people often treat him as a mutant rather than a human. People often show curiosity and sympathy or even disgust at what has happened to him rather than respect because of what he did. The line ‘All of them touch him like some queer disease’ supports the idea and the verb ‘touch’ dissociate the main character with the others as he is different from people that are whole. Normal civilians are described to be supportive about war, believing that it is the right thing to do. The line,” He was drafted out with drums and cheers “suggests that people are affected by the flow of patriotism, as propaganda and flyers justify their reasons for war, thus gaining support from the people. They are also described as dispassionate, as not much care is diverted towards those who came back injured. “Some cheered him home, but not as crowd cheer goal.” It is possible to say that the people deny the truth of the brutal nature of war as it was discouraged, and see as an act of disloyalty towards their nation; therefore they choose to ignore the result of war, in our case the disabled protagonist, and blind themselves to the fantasy side of war. Another point that supports the idea that nothing has change is the romance. During times of war, we could assume...
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