Susan Hill exploits the form of the novel in ‘Strange Meeting’ to present a more moving ad sensitive depiction of the corruption of youth than R.C. Sheriff’s portrayal of this within his dramatic text ‘Journey’s End’. How far do you agree?
Strange Meeting is a novel that was first published by Susan Hill in 1971. The text powerfully depicts the emotional effect that a life in the First World War could have on youth. Strange Meeting tells the tale of two young soldiers placed in an environment that breaks people. Hilliard is a young man who in the back story has already experienced the horrors of war; this experience has left him to be out of place in a civilian life. Susan Hill tells us of a relationship that Hilliard and his sister used to share with one another, a relationship of which meant they could rely on one another for anything. However, after being exposed to the war, the effects it can have on a person show through. He no longer feels that he can relate to her, and she sees only a different man when she looks at him now. Raleigh also the perilous effects that the war can have on a, the main character in R.C. Sherriff’s text ‘Journey’s End’. In this text Raleigh sees a man whom he once looked up to, Stanhope, having been destroyed and turned into a drunk. This reaction to the stress of war was a common one that many men turned to in order to cope with the war- we know that in the war many of the men were young men, and this was the only way they knew would help them to fight the loss of the people they may have lived with all of their lives. Almost all of the young men serving in the war suffered mental scars, and those who survived the war would almost never wholly recover from them. This shows exactly just how devastating the front lines were. Especially for those who were in the start of their lives, to see someone they knew come to the end of theirs so suddenly so young and in such horrific ways. We know that this was not a rare situation for people to be in; this was in fact happening on a mass scale to millions of people at a time. This shows just how insignificant the loss of life was in this time.
The officers in both texts depict strong examples of the corruption of youth; however, it is hard to say which one, if any does so in a better way. An argument could be used to say that Sheriff produces a better example of how fast these effects can happen, and he does so in a very strong dramatic way. However, at the same time Susan Hill depicts the effects over a long duration of time, this is shown in a very good way at the start of the novel, when she introduces Hilliard, and says ‘He was afraid to go to sleep. For three weeks, he had been afraid of going to sleep’ this was shows how even after the war, or when a soldier left the war they were still being affected by it. This adds to the knowledge that these corruptions are not something that you can escape once they have taken effect. Both texts show great examples of how they did not just effect the soldier himself; they in fact affected every one they came into contact with especially the soldiers they would be working with and living with as relationships swayed from hatred to that of a family member time-and-time again. More so it affected the families of the solders, as the corruption of youth, caused many families to lose the younger members of their family not always to the war its self but often to the emotional changes that the young men would go through. A perfect example of this is in Susan Hill’s novel when we witness the destruction of a once great bond between Hilliard and his sister, all due to him wanting to block people out of his life in order to reduce the amount of loss he would face emotionally.
Sheriff uses a lot of direct dialogue in order to allow the reader to feel the ups and downs that his characters were going through at the time, as well as showing how fast things could change. This meant that the audience was...
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