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Consider the novels ‘Birdsong’ and ‘Regeneration’ compare Faulks’ and Barker’s presentation of life in the trenches during world war one.

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Introduction

Consider the novels 'Birdsong' and 'Regeneration' compare Faulks' and Barker's presentation of life in the trenches during world war one. In Birdsong the experience of trench warfare is made extremely vivid. The terror of life at the front and in the underground beneath it, is graphically portrayed by Faulks through the eyes of the characters, particularly those of Stephen Wraysford. Stephen, an officer promoted from the ranks, endures the nightmare world of the trenches. The horror of this experience is depicted objectively. Some central scenes in the novel are set in mining tunnels that both sides constructed between their separate trench networks. The allies and the Germans both dug these mines and countermines; sometimes as Faulks illustrates, one side would succeed in detonating explosions that destroyed enemy tunnels, killing the sappers or burying them alive. Faulks does not give any gratification to any sensibilities in his descriptions of the mutilating and killing. He also vividly evokes the dread of constant noise from the barrage and bombardment, the fear of gas attack and the utter squalor of life-and death-in the trenches. 'When there was a battle or a raid, they expected to die; it was the losses through sniper fire, through shells and mortars, the blowing of the tunnel, the continuous awareness that any moment could bring death in a number of different ways that had been harder to understand. Slowly Jack had become accustomed even to this. It took him a day of sleep each time they went into rest before he could adjust to not being in constant fear'. In both novels Birdsong and Regeneration many of the characters seem to find it difficult to allow the feeling of rest to come upon them as they try to adjust themselves to the lack of fear. Faulks notes that the reason that shellfire mad the soldiers so nervous was because they had seen the damage they were capable of causing, ' A direct hit would obliterate all visible evidence that a man ever ...read more.

Middle

A number of offences were punishable with death, including mutiny, disobedience, desertion, sleeping or being drunk on post (jack firebrace and other quotes about his sleeping on post punishment) and striking a superior officer. Regeneration and Birdsong look at the horrors of war and the effects they have on the men who endure them. Sassoon and Wraysford both argue that the war is wrong. Sassoon in Regeneration is similarly resentful of the home front attitudes towards the war. When asked by Rivers as to whether he might find it difficult to feel safe whilst others are dying, he replies, "Nobody else in this stinking country seems to find it difficult. I expect I'll just learn to live with it. Like everybody else". Barker earlier on in the novel notes that ' Sassoon's determination to remember might well account for his early and rapid recovery, though in this case it was motivated less by a desire to save his own sanity than by a determination to convince civilians that the war was mad'. (quote). They question, which in turn asks ourselves to question, without looking through a haze of patriotic pride, when a nations political, economic or moral position is in enough jeopardy to warrant the horrifying debt of blood that will inevitably be incurred. When discussing Sassoon with Bryce, Rivers comments that he doesn't believe him to be a pacifist, but that, 'It seems to be entirely a matter of horror at the extent of the slaughter, combined with a feeling of anger that the government won't state its war aims and impose some kind of limitation on the whole thing'. Faulks announces that the war is a pitiless human activity and the depiction's of it should be equally pitiless, as in any war, nothing human is sacred and nothing human should be spared. It's as if death was meaningless, Once more in ragged suicidal line they trudged towards the pattering death of mounted guns. ...read more.

Conclusion

Their contribution to the day, a vast hole that had been blown at twenty past seven, had given the enemy ten minutes in which to take their positions at leisure. By the crater they saw young men dying in quantities that they had not dreamed possible. They had not fired a shot. The excess of it made them clutch each other's arms in disbelief. 'They can't let this go on,' said Jck, 'they can't'., Shaw stood with his mouth open. He was unmoved by violence, hardened to the mutilation he had seen and inflicted, but what he was watching here was something of a different order. Please god, let it stop, though jack. Please let them send no more men into this hurricane. The padre, Horracks, came and stood with them. He crossed himself and tried to comfort them with words and prayers. Jack turned his face away from what he saw, and he felt something dying in him as he turned. Shaw had begun to weep. He held his miner's hand's to the sides of his head and the tears coursed down his face. 'Boys, boys,' he kept saying. 'Oh my poor boys.' Horrocks was trembling. 'This is half of England. What are we going to do?' He stammered. Soon they all fell silent. There was an eruption from the trench below and another wave went up into the pitted moonlike scape, perhaps Essex or Duke of Wellington's, it was impossible to see. Thye made no more than ten yards before they began to waver, single men at first picked out, knocked spinning, then more going as they reached the barrage; then when the machine guns found them, they rippled, like corn through which the wind was passing. Jack thought of meat, the smell of it. Horrcoks pulled the silver cross form his chest and hurled it from him. His old reflex still persisting, he fell to his knees and did not pray. He stayed kneeling with his palms spread out on the ground, then lowered his head and covered it with his hands. Jack knew what had died in him' ...read more.

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