How do Baker and Frayn use the war as a platform to explore a wide range of issues

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How do Baker and Frayn use the war as a platform to explore a wide range of issues?

'Spies' by Micheal Frayn and ‘The Ghost Road’ by Pat Barker both set during the Second World War and First World War respectively use this as platform to introduce us to several key issues. Both novels are portrayed as works of philosophy: the 'novel of ideas'. Concepts relating to these issues are conveyed through Frayn and Barker’s portrayal of the ambiguity of memory, the confusion of illusion and reality, and perception.

The backdrop of war is first used as a platform to explore a wide range of issues by both authors to examine the issue of innocence and maturity. Such as in 'Spies' which is presented as a 'coming-of-age' novel: Stephen's conflicting ideas of childhood and the adult world and his own journey into adolescence. Stephen who starts the novel reminiscing about his childhood essentially plots his journey from innocent child into maturity and it is the war that allows him to do so. The childish games Stephen and Keith play are affected by war and eventually lead them into a fast track into maturity. The issues faced by young boys going through maturing into men.  We see this when Stephen smokes “I’m no longer bound by the rules and restrictions of childhood” Stephen feels that he is free from childhood when he smokes. This gives way for the idea, the sense of freedom that the adult world gives. However this is contrasted when he faces the reality of being an adult as Keith and Stephen’s World War Two fuelled games forces the boys to realise the adult world is a totally different experience to the child’s world. No more games of “let’s pretend”. Stephen’s trouble is to deal with this reality as he states “I’m emerging from the old dark world of tunnels and terrors of childhood and stepping into a new world of even darker tunnels and more elusive terrors”.

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Similarly, ‘The Ghost Road’ also uses the war as an amplification of coming of age and loss of innocence. The young and naïve soldiers are given a fast track into hardening and maturing as they face the horrors of war. The dark and horrifying nature of war allows the experience of loss of innocence and maturing to be experienced in a short time. We see this contrast as the young officers are described as ‘big eyed children, struggling to take in the strangers’ and our avoided by the matured and hardened Manchester’s who cannot deal with them. Then within a ...

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