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What is the Significance of the prisoner in'The Long The Short and The Tall?" "The Long the Short and the Tall" is a play set in the Second World War, 1942, in the humid Malayan tropical jungle.

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What is the Significance of the prisoner in 'The Long The Short and The Tall?" "The Long the Short and the Tall" is a play set in the Second World War, 1942, in the humid Malayan tropical jungle. Most of the action takes place in a small, wooden hut, where a British Patrol, consisting of one sergeant, two corporals and four privates, who have been cut off from their base camp because of advancing Japanese soldiers, are trying to make contact with base, which is fifteen miles away, using a radio transmitter/ receiver. A Japanese soldier, who has slipped away from his platoon for a cigarette becomes interested in the hut after seeing the radio transmitter/receiver on the table through the glassless window. As the Japanese soldier advances towards the entrance to the hut, the British Patrol inside prepare to attack him as soon as he walks in. As the soldier marches in, he is pounced on by Johnstone, who restrains him and turns the Japanese soldier into a P.O.W. The British Patrol, have the option of killing the non-English speaking soldier or taking him back with them to base as he could give information about the enemy when interrogated. This is where the resources of the British Patrol are tested as some want to give the Japanese soldier his human rights and follow the laws of the Geneva Convention but others want to break these laws and kill the soldier in cold blood, as they believe he is just an ordinary soldier and there is no need to take him back by risking their own lives. ...read more.


and gain valuable intelligence about the Japanese army positioning and other facts such as their weaponry and the number of soldiers they had in the region. The prisoner is kept alive for the majority of the play because of this reason by Mitchem. As time passes, Mitchem sees the prisoner as an expendable object, believing that the prisoner needs to be 'gotten ridden off.' It is important for Mitchem not to see the Japanese soldier as human but as the enemy. This is because it would make it very difficult for him to make an unbiased decision. Lance Corporal Macleish is fairly a young member of the patrol. He tries to treat the prisoner like a human as he wants to follow the Geneva Convention and protect the prisoners' rights. He is influenced by his brother, who he believes is a P.O.W and wants to treat the prisoner the same way he hopes his brother is being taken care of by the Japanese. However, after the discoveries of the British issued cigarettes and case he has a change of heart, probably because he thinks that the prisoner may have looted them from a dead British soldier, meaning there was a slight possibility that same soldier may just be his brother; 'My brother's only 19...for all I know he's dead!' "I'll kill him." This shows that he is quite hypocritical; he preaches to others about rules and regulations but when it suits him, he ignores them without any thought. ...read more.


At the end of the play, Corporal Johnstone is the only surviving member of the squadron and was probably taken captive by the Japanese. The play was written by Willis Hall who was a pacifist. In his play we see how he disagrees with the idea of war. He tries to show the readers the pointlessness and meaninglessness of war and how it normally ends in tragedy. Also he is trying to show his audience how war is just about one human being killed another one and that it is waste of precious life. The play shows that each character is an individual and is a real person who has a family anxiously waiting for them back at home. Even the prisoner is a real person who has a wife and kids waiting for his return. The play reveals that every soldier has a life behind the war and is not just a number on a list. Each of the men has an identity and a family back home. It is a shock when the characters and prisoner are killed off as the audience gets to know them and then they are suddenly shot instantly at the end without any warning. Also the play establishes a relationship between the audience and the characters that is unique and intimate. So when they are killed it is a shock and we feel sympathy for them. It is clear that Hall has written the play to emphasise that war is a futile tragedy and it is not heroic to be involved in war. By Adil Iqbal 4LC Number of Words: Page 1 of 4 ...read more.

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