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

Explore the ways in which Sebastian Faulks presents human endurance in the face of the horrors of war in the novel 'Birdsong'

Extracts from this document...


Explore the ways in which Sebastian Faulks presents human endurance in the face of the horrors of war in the novel 'Birdsong' In Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks highlights the incredible lengths of endurance that the soldiers of World War I were pushed to, having been subjected to the grim horrors of war. He makes it apparent that such horrors required a great deal of mental endurance as well as physical endurance, a notion that is aptly illustrated by Stephen Wraysford in a conversation with Michael Weir, "This is not a war, this is an exploration of how far men can be degraded". The first time that the reader is introduced to Jack Firebrace, he's lying on a wooden cross whilst forty-five feet underneath France - a tunneller. Immediately, physical adjectives are used in order to portray how hellish and unforgiving a miner's tunnel can be. In the second paragraph of Part Two, Faulks includes small chunks of description in a series of short sentences to progressively give the reader a tunneler's perspective of the underground setting and its appalling conditions. The sweat running into and stinging Jack's eyes; the claustrophobia of a four-foot-wide tunnel; the fact that all time had been lost track of whilst ...read more.


This shows his preference of being incinerated by an explosion over having to experience a slow, painful, languishing death due to gas or wounds - the fact that he has a preferred method of dying shows that he's experienced enough death to come to the conclusion that it's inevitable; he accepts that he's going to die, and isn't particularly scared of it, but would prefer to die a quick death. This is somewhat ironic, because Jack dies a long and painful death spanning a number of days after being buried alive with Stephen in Part Six. Even when Jack begins to eventually long for death, it still refuses to arrive swiftly, as shown when Stephen wakes Jack from unconsciousness, but "he could see Jack fighting to be free of him, desperate to shake off his last contact with the living world". Faulks made this happen to show that war is unfair, and also that the events of war can change a man to the extent that he'd rather die than have to return to ordinary life, which seems distant and unrealistic; "While a primitive fear kept stirring in him, the pain of his body and the lost illusions of his life made him wish for the conclusion to come". ...read more.


He was carrying a sword". Sebastian Faulks portrays the horrors of war in numerous ways; he describes the claustrophobia and intense heat and darkness of a tunnel; the realisation that death is inevitable and the unwise tacticians of the Battle of the Somme. Whatever situation soldiers are thrown into, though, it seems like they're able to adapt and endure it - like when Stephen is forced to carry a canary through the mines despite his crippling fear of birds. At first, Stephen is revolted by the idea of catching the canary, "He felt himself close to tears as he searched the murk of the clay", Faulks's use of the phrase "close to tears" makes Stephen seem childlike, but his determination to help his injured comrade spurs him on, and, unwilling to upset Weir by killing the bird, he literally grits his teeth and carries the bird to safety, "With teeth clamped very tight together he held out both hands to Weir, who released the bird into the handkerchief", possibly saving Weir's life in the process. However, a lot of soldiers endured their situations because the only alternative was a court martial, but the threat of the firing squad was enough to make most soldiers do practically anything for their country. Word Count: 1239 ...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 Other Authors 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 Other Authors essays

  1. How does Graham Greene explore gender representation in Brighton Rock?

    Greene is perhaps commenting on the dual nature of women, not only is there the archetypal ideas of women staying at home, caring for the family, but there does exist the maverick female in society who can be happy and content with a life of enjoyment whilst not being tied down to family commitments.

  2. Discuss the relationship between Keith and Stephen that is presented in the first Six ...

    Stephen's whereabouts' this shows that Stephen actually gave Keith's mother more respect and didn't think highly of her. Stephen imitated his father's language like 'Shnick-shnack' when Keith said something unbelievable but Keith gave one of his looks to show that he was not impressed and he had said the wrong thing once again.

  1. "'We Need to Talk About Kevin' presents us with unsympathetic characters who nevertheless attract ...

    And that's how I achieved an appreciation for how much energy it must have taken him the rest of the time to generate this other boy (or boys)." Eva also comes to the conclusion that "underneath the levels of fury...

  2. "This (novel) is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by ...

    holes and wounded men and corpses took off backwards from an airfield in England..." the naivety in Billy's mind to see everything going backwards just shows how horrific the war was. He is able to reverse the entire history backwards therefore resulting to bombs being lifted from the grounds, and people who were killed comes back to life.

  1. "Strange Meeting" by Susan Hill. Explore and evaluate the ways in which ...

    Whereas Barton's character is whole but he has never experienced death and will be in for a shock. Through out the novel we see Barton change from a boy to man during his time in the front line, until his dramatic fall after his horrifying experience after a soldier gets shot in the head right in front of him.

  2. "Compare and explore the notion of 'status' and 'power' in No One Writes to ...

    This contrasts heavily with the obvious comparison: that of Esteban Trueba, the violent-tempered conservative who is highly ambitious and driven, who can't bear to sit around doing nothing. No One Writes to the Colonel is, despite its very passive relay of political events, a very political story.

  1. Explore the Ways Sebastian Faulks Presents the Psychological Effects in 'Birdsong'.

    In Part 2, after Weir encounters his failed sexual experience with a prostitute, he violently ?hissed? explaining he wanted ?to leave?. Faulks creates the deliberate ambiguity to allow the readers to infer what might happen, which leave us with ambiguous and mortifying thoughts since Weir?s sexual deprivation proves to be

  2. How does Faulks present death throughout the novel?

    Faulks also shows the brutal death of the soldiers through his description of the young boy in the infirmary who dies an inhuman death. Faulks uses of colour and descriptive language to highlight the horror and inhumanity of war through the young soldier death.

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