War Brings Out the Best and Worst in Humanity

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‘War brings out the best and worst in humanity.’ Compare and contrast the ways in which your chosen writers reveal the impact war has on the individual and society.

War brings out extreme experiences for the human condition; extreme pain, guilt, pride, mercy and anger all present within the novels I have chosen to write about. Some of us may find these experiences good things and others, bad; I have decided to explore this idea using the novels ‘Birdsong’ written by Sebastian Faulks and ‘War Horse’ by Michael Morpurgo to explore the different ways in which both authors depict the effect war has on us as individuals and on society as a whole. Within this essay I will be exploring both the positive effects war may have and also the negative.

‘War Horse’ is a story of a horse names Joey who arrived into the care of a young boy named Albert. At the outbreak of World War 1 he is sold to the British army and shipped to France, when his rider is killed Joey begins on a journey which results in him serving on both sides of the trenches and being able to witness the fighting from different angles and perspectives giving us as a reader, a chance to view the effect war is having on these individuals that are forced to do unspeakable things to other humans, a condition that isn’t natural and is only brought about by social pressures and a feeling of obligation to their betters. It takes the interesting approach to narrative as it is told from the horses’ perspective, the author himself was said to have mentioned that he chose this narrative because “I wanted this to be a story of universal suffering in the war, not told by one side or another.” This novel portrays perfectly the emotions different people find themselves going through including the sacrifice and heart ache which are two things I am to investigate in this essay.

‘Birdsong’ is my second novel and takes the portrayal of war in a slightly different way. It tells the story of young Stephen and how his...