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

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Introduction

Birdsong: Sebastian Faulks * Novel inspired by Isaac Rosenberg's poem, 'Returning, we hear the larks'. ( see page 90 OCR) * Highly evocative and heart rending. Powerful imagery. Overview Based during periods ranging from 1910 to 1979. It recalls the story of Stephen Wraysford, originally a manager at a textile factory whom acts as an ambassador for his firm and visits a French business to compare and report back. What follows, is a story of the relationships he forms there and the path he takes. It then continues through to the war and his role in it and the men and relationships that they form. We also follow his granddaughter in the 1970's and her journey of discovery of her family's history and her grandfather's life and her own relationships. Why this extract? Because you should read this book! This extract demonstrates the power of the writing and the images it creates without spoiling the story or giving anything away! In addition this considers the actions of the men in WW1 and the horror they suffered going over the top. ...read more.

Middle

* The lack of grace at death- horrifying. Extract taken from the Ghost Road: "Prior looked at his watch, licked dry lips, and watched the second hand crawl to the quarter. All around him was a tension of held breath. 5:43. Two more minutes. He crouched further down whistle clenched between his teeth. Prompt as ever, hell erupted. Shells whined over, flashes of light, plumes of water from the drainage ditches, tons of mud and earth flung in to the air. A shell fell short. The ground shook beneath them and a shower of pebbles and clods of earth peppered their steel helmets." * Tension mounting; calm then contrast to complete destruction. * Chaos * Fear * Futility * Enormity of sacrifice. Extract "The second hand of his watch in slow motion. Twenty Nine past. The whistle in his mouth. His foot on the ladder. He swallowed hard and blew. He clambered out and looked around him. It was for a moment completely quiet as the bombardment ended and the German guns also stopped. ...read more.

Conclusion

This course of events serves several purposes, we, as readers, are shocked by the chaos because of the preceding tranquillity, so increasing the shock-factor. The bravery of the men is further reinforced because we see how difficult it must have been to force yourself to go 'over the top'. In addition it is such a strong contrast in atmosphere, more so than 'Ghost Road's' anxiety to artillery fire, the sense of gravity of the situation they were faced with is further increased. It is the sense of hope which this transition creates which in the end makes the battle all the more agonising to watch. You do watch it, in your mind, because the words are so powerful and the horror is never once evaded but faced and impressed upon the reader, leaving us in no question of the sheer horror of the front line. Each extract creates powerful imagery and considers the daily ordeals of the front line in unbearable detail. Both extract's leave a lasting impression in the reader's minds of the futility of the 'Great War' and the extent of the lasting horror and anguish it produced. ...read more.

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