How does Faulks present death throughout the novel?

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Sharon Maj

How does Faulks present death throughout the novel?

Sebastian Faulks portrays death as brutal and horrific throughout the war. Faulks emphasize how futile it was by using vivid imagery of Jack, John, Tipper, Douglas and other soldiers deaths. In World War One literature death is procured in many ways as horrific, violent and tragic and also as patriotic  however in this novel death is shown as being futile and cruel as many soldiers experience horrible deaths and suffer psychological trauma from their experience .

Through the death of Reeves and Douglas, Faulks’ shows death is not heroic in the trenches but is brutal. Faulks uses horrific language to show the cruel and brutal side of war through Reeves’s death: ‘His ribcage was missing on one side…The ragged edges of skull from which the remains of his brain were dropping’.  The use of the progressive verb ‘dropping’ gives the reader a horrific image which makes them understand how a brutal death like this cannot be considered heroic, as it was not a peaceful death but an atrocious inhuman death also, the progressive verb is used to give the idea that the pain continues. Faulks uses the adjective ‘ragged’ to show the brutality of the poor condition of the man and the pain that he must have been in. The choice of the word “ribcage”  is a shocking image to the reader as it sounds very painful for the soldier to have died in that way  which is  really violent and brutal.  Faulks show how death can be extremely brutal through Douglas’ death ‘Douglas’s blood was all over Stephen. It had a peculiar smell... It was like the smell in the back of a butcher’s shop, only stronger.’  Faulks use of synthesis makes the reader almost have an effect on the foul scent that Douglas’s blood had. In the war the horrible scents were quite typical and eventually soldiers adapted to it.  “ A rib or two has collapsed and his  hand was going towards the man’s lung . He stopped the pressure”.  These descriptions are similar to Sheers’s poem ‘Mametz Wood” as it says “’their jaws, those that have them,dropped,open’. Both writers focus on the body and injuries of the soldiers as it shows brutality and inhumanity of war through the soldier’s deaths.

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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. ‘His infected lungs began to burble and froth with yellow fluid that chocked his words of protest’. The words ‘yellow fluid’ makes the soldier sounds like an animal full of pain, the yellow colour gives a horrible image to the reader which shows inhuman side of death even the liquid in the soldier’s body does not ...

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