It Does No Good to Be Afraid by Roberston Davies: Summary

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‘IT DOES NO GOOD TO BE AFRAID' – Roberston Davies (84 – 90)

A.This short excerpt from Robertson Davies' novel Fifth Business highlights the feelings evoked by war and battle, and as well the outlook of life after war. In this piece, war is not portrayed as being heroic, nor as being beautiful. It is described as frantic and unorganized, with many people becoming disoriented in the midst of random gunfire and shells exploding sporadically. This piece deals with the main character, Ramsay's, war experiences in Belgium, where his mission was to kill a group of German soldier's who manned a machine gun sentry.

Ramsay's feelings are detailed in the writing. The author conveys his feelings about war through the mood and through Ramsay's feelings. Ramsay describes fallen comrades being lost in the thick mud and exploding shrapnel. He shows little remorse for the fallen soldiers, treating it as something of the norm. The main point that the author wishes to present is shown when Ramsay shoots the three German's at the sentry. He says: "I am not proud of it now and I did not glory in it then." This shows that even though he succeeded in his mission, he did not delight in killing others, even if it was a great accomplishment.

B.The story is told in first person perspective; therefore all the descriptions are the actual feelings of the character. The author uses literary devices such as simile and metaphor to create vivid imagery, both visual and tactile. We see this in the quote "It was like swimming in molasses, with the additional misery that it was molasses that stank and had dead men in it." Also, because the story is told in retrospect, that is the narrator is recalling his memories to his former headmaster in the form of a letter, he is able to allude to future events. In this text, Ramsay compares the feeling of shrapnel hitting his leg, to a car accident that took place later on.

The message that the author is portraying about war is that soldiers...
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