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Discuss Stephen's character and how it changes throughout the story.

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Introduction

Discuss Stephen's character and how it changes throughout the story. Birdsong, written by Sebastian Faulks, is a book described by many as a classic. A "magnificent, deeply moving, sleep-disturbing and powerful" novel, as said by reviewers from all around the globe. The protagonist of this novel, Stephen Wraysford, is a fascinating character because he makes important decisions that not only change his own future, but also that of others. This novel is set before, during, and after the First World War, and even though, in 1970, Stephen has died, he is still the focus of the story. We first meet Stephen in Paris, in 1910, when he is staying with the Azaire family, who own, and run a textiles factory. We find out that his boss in England has sent Stephen to France, to find out more about how a large factory is run. He has previously only worked on the accounting side of the business, but needs to gain knowledge of the whole workplace; from the employees, to the managerial section. However, when Stephen arrives, he finds that not all is going well, as the company currently has to cope with a strike from the workers. During this turbulent time, we do not really find out a lot about Stephen, but what we do find out is mainly to do with his ability to cope with different situations. ...read more.

Middle

Stephen is now a lot more worldly, and, with all of the horror of war, has started to think a lot about life and its meaning. For example, Stephen, when he is supposed to be punishing a Tunneller, lectures the man on the death of each man. "Every one of the men we've killed is someone's son. Do you think of that when you see them dead? Do you wonder what their mothers thought when they first held them to their breast - that they would end like this?" He wants each of his men to think about the importance of the war to themselves and to each other. He is also very interested in different aspects of the profession, which is a characteristic that we have previously seen in the novel. Even though as a Lieutenant, it is not his direct resposibility to go underground, he wants to go into one of the tunnels that undermines the German trenches, to experience the conditions that the soilders have to work in. He decides to take charge of the trek, and is therefore responsible for the men he is taking down. One of the soldiers that Stephen takes with him for protection describes him as a tireless leader, and always enthusiastic towards his men. "His eyes felt heavy with fatigue...his mouth felt burned and sour...his skull was throbbing, and a tremor was starting in his hand. ...read more.

Conclusion

As we already know, Stephen's main confidante is Weir, and, while drinking one night, he finds out that Weir has never made love to a women. As surprised as Stephen is, he promises Weir that he will help to overcome his fear of the female body. Even though this may seem a trivial thing in the rest of Stephen's life, at this time, Stephen is prepared to do anything to help anyone who needs a friend. The last time frame that we hear of Stephen in is in the late 1970s, when Stephen's, and Madame Azaire's grandaughter, Elizabeth decides to find out what she can about her grandfather, who she never knew. This is because Stephen unfortunately died soon after the war, but, due to his daughters interest, he is still the focus of attention. We do not particularly find out much about his character, but Elizabeth finds a lot of factual information about what Stephen had to endure, and this makes her respect a man who everyone loved in one way or another The way that the author, Sebastian Faulkes portrays Stephen is a way that makes him seem like a hero, but not to the war, but to the individuals, who fought for their country. Stephen is a very matter of fact man, and this quote, said while discussing opinions of the bloodshed around them would make anyone think twice. "This is not a war, this is an exploration of how far men can be degraded." ...read more.

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