• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analysis of the "Riverboat Trip" in the novel "Birdsong" by Sebastian Faulks as a key narrative moment

Extracts from this document...


Riverboat Trip The riverboat trip is a key moment in the first part of the novel. The way that it prefigures the war shows how Faulk's interlinks peacetime with war. The trip can be used to highlight Stephen's view of the war, and also his views of companionship, shown by his interactions with Madame Azaire. The first piece of evidence that it is relating back to the war comes in the first paragraph on P44. All of the characters have had their lunch and they are sitting quietly, passing time. This is as though they are men after war. They are all silent and want to be alone. During the paragraph, there is no speech. This is like the aftermath of war because they are all reflecting on the events of the day. This point is reiterated in the next paragraph where they 'clambered back into the boat.' This does not make it sound like they are all out for lunch, but more like some form of struggle. ...read more.


'Hectic abundance', 'death', 'shot' is just some that Faulks uses. The whole description of the water gardens could be used to describe the war, and mainly the trenches. It is almost as though it is portraying the harsh conditions that the soldiers had to endure, 'What was held to be a place of natural beauty was a stagnation of living tissue which could not be saved from decay.' Stephen sees the fields and the gardens that are picture of beauty, and inadvertently relates them to the war. The water gardens would one day be used to fight a war, where the killing of life would happen on a constant basis. There are three key moments when we see what the effect of war would have on men physically and psychologically. When Stephen catches Madame Azaire's eye, we are told that she 'looked into his with no social smile or conversational suggestion.' Many men during the war suffered from shellshock, and the war was certainly a time when men saw goings on that would haunt them for the rest of their lives. ...read more.


Stephen shows us of a belief that he holds throughout the novel, that we all die and return to the earth (circle of life). He calls the ground the 'clinging earth', as though it is dragging you down towards your death. This attitude is very pessimistic, and is brought up again by Faulks during the novel, when Stephen talks to Weir about the limits of man. When the trip comes to an end, B�rard does as any general would do and rewrites 'the story of the afternoon'. This would have been typical of most generals who 'edited' stories to highlight the glory. It is also true of telegrams that were sent home to the families of the killed. They would get informed of how their son died bravely on a mission that was critical in the war against evil. This of course, was mostly untrue, but eased the pain and suffering back home. Generally, the riverboat trip is merely just a way for Faulks to prefigure the war through the eyes of Stephen. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level War Poetry essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Compare and contrast the ways in which the theme of Human Suffering is presented ...

    4 star(s)

    horrors of what happened to the young men who were sent to the battlefields without a notion of the reality of war had been revealed. By using the anger and bitterness of those who survived the war as his motivation and incorporating the historical facts of what took place on

  2. How is Manderly an appropriate setting for a Gothic novel in spite of its ...

    The desaturated colour is most forceful during the battle scenes where death and pain are seen in extreme realism and graphic detail. In the first scene there is a simple yet effective transition from present to past. An elderly James Ryan is seen visiting the graves of US soldiers.

  1. Analyse Faulks presentation of Stephens mental state in Part One of Birdsong. Explain how ...

    Faulks presentation of Stephen's mental state in this small section of part one can be seen as fairly negative and he makes Stephen's personality seem unappealing to the reader. The main content of part one is the raging love affair between stephen and Isabelle, Madame Azaire is beaten by Rene

  2. How the character of Stephen is portrayed by Faulks in Birdsong.

    This gives some sense of anticipation as to what may happen, and how serious it may be. As we continue the novel, Stephen gets lost around the house, searched for the dining room and stumbles across the kitchen. Here we learn that although Stephen as a higher role than the

  1. Compare the ways that Sebastian Faulks and the war poets present ordinary men's

    Compared to other poets such as Faulks and Owen, this is nothing but fantasy and is far from the truth and brutality of war. I believe Brooke in particular wanted to inspire others to believe as he did. Pope wanted to hide the truth from likely soldiers and the British

  2. Compare and Contrast the Relationship between Men in the Novels: 'Birdsong' by Sebastian Faulks ...

    Rivers constant questioning makes the dialogue somewhat uneasy and ultimately bothers Prior: 'Questions. On and on and bloody on.' Another way of perceiving this passage could be that Prior is simply releasing stress that has built up and perhaps feels guilty for unfairly targeting Rivers.

  1. With detailed reference to

    Instead, he symbolized Marilyn as a real person with thoughts and feelings, people never knew the true Marilyn because the papers exploited her as something she wasn't. Elton admired and respected her and can also relate to what she was going through, it is made apparent that Elton can see

  2. Comparison of an extract from Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and "Ghost Road"

    In doing so compound the horrifying and dramatic nature of the story as we compare our life today within the story and as we read. By starting in pre war 1910 we also are able to understand the mentality

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work