Generals Die in Bed by Charles Yale Harrison
‘Generals Die in Bed’ demonstrates that the war only bring the sense of futility and despair.’ Discuss. By Saro Man 9B
Generals Die in Bed certainly demonstrates that war is futile and the soldiers suffer both emotionally and physically. Charles Yale Harrison presents a distressing account of the soldiers fighting in the Western front, constantly suffering and eventually abandoning hope for an end to the horrors that they experience daily. The ‘boys’ who went to war became ‘sunk in misery’. We view the war from the perspective of a young soldier who remains nameless. The narrator’s experience displays the futility and horror of war and the despair the soldiers suffered. There is no glory in war. As an 18 yr old virgin recruit, the narrator, who remains unnamed, leaves his homeland of Canada for the war in Europe. The mood of the soldiers is generally happy: many have spent their last day visiting brothels and getting drunk. Some however are apprehensive of the war that lies ahead of them. The bleak reality of the trenches is unbearable: ‘each step is agony. The mud sucks us down...but we keep going nevertheless’. In the face of adversity, it leaves no doubt that these men have been forced to the limits of their tolerance and perseverance: ‘We borrow into the grounds like frightened rats....I am terrified. I hug the earth, digging my fingers into every crevices, every hole...my bowels liquefy’. The recruits expose the ruthless side of themselves when their reaction to Browns death was a mere surprise. Brown was shot in the middle of his duty dividing rations. The soldiers all expected death at any moment-whether it was to them, one of their friends or between their comrades. The dead comrade was soon forgotten and his abandoned ration taken: ‘Broadbent takes the cheese and bread out of Brown’s haversack...Anyway...he can’t eat any more’. They do not see themselves as comrades; their main aim is to survive at what ever...
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