The course’s literature has examined the history, styles, and authors of various text. While many have explored the influences of the speakers and authors due to the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, and expansionism, the modern works written Post-War have mirrored the views of new humanism. “Pluck” and “The Fly” place emphases on the formality of mortal will and existing values. Provided that the speakers of these works are mutually, emotionally impacted by the outcomes of World War I, they individually express their distress in dissimilar behaviors and are a reflection of the author’s experiences.
Dubbed as the “Great War”, the gory battles of World War. obstructed the lives of more than 30 million people; contrary to the expectations of it being the war to end all wars, it caused the collapse of empires, the Great Depression, and traumatic happenings of the Holocaust (Rosenberg, “Overview”). A war of this magnitude lasted for five years and caused the nations to break their neutrality- including the United States (“American”). The “melting pot”, symbolizing the welcome of immigrants, explicated the isolationism of America from overseas conflicts.
The nation, as it does today, consisted of residents that considered the nations at battle their homeland. To protect their land and freedom many men and children enlisted in war; tough their enlistment brought about horror, political indifferences, and the nearing possibilities of death, the stories of these courageous men continue to spread through emotive prose narrated by personas of those afflicted. The causalities of war lead its participants to emotional and physical damage; with the struggles of the British against Germany, many soldiers were wounded and in need of medical attention (Rosenberg).
Nevertheless, the establishment of care centers were prevalent, but with the growing numbers of patients, aid post were multiplied. The expansion of medical assistance caused a shortage in trained staff. Yet, the establishment of the Voluntary Aid Detachment supplied more than 74,000 volunteers (Rojas). More than three-fourths of the volunteers consisted of women, including Eva Dobell. Distressed by the suffering patients she encounters during her time with VAD, Dobell’s poetry conveys the immoral aspects of war. The urge to enlist in the war spanned from the young age of 15 and further past the legal age of 19.
World War I was the war to break all agreements on the way war should be fought. With the spark of patriotism igniting the bravery of many men, recruiting agencies recruited solely on the willingness and fitness. Ignoring the age restriction, more than 25,000 recruits under the conventional age enlisted in war (Trueman). The innocence of young men were stricken by the bloody battles causing emotional and physical damage. Though their bravery foreshadowed their lack of mental and physical preparedness, their fight for life became their biggest weakness.
Eva Dobell’s “Pluck” examines the emotional cope of a seventeen year old boy permanently wounded (Dobell 1). The determined courage, pluck, is the reason this you boy is questioning his paralysis. To induce sympathy the author’s tone and imagery extends as she parallels his disability and emotions to hopelessness. The author exposes the idea of regret in the boy’s decision to lie in order to “march [with men], and fight” instead of exploring his youthfulness with those of his age (Dobell 8-9). The dynamic imagery unfolds as the veteran’s emotional state is “broken with pain”.
The horror he experienced in war doesn’t amount to his constant dread of getting dressed due to his post-traumatic stress disorder (Dobell 11-13). Reliving the tragedies one by one, he “strangles” his weeping and “heart-sick fear,” by facing it with strength, as a pluck soldier would (Dobell 14-16)! Continuing with the success of female authors, Katherine Mansfield was a modernist who focused on themes of disruption; during the time of the First World War, Mansfield contracted extra pulmonary tuberculosis which laid her to rest at the young age of 34.
Mansfield was known to ignore the war’s developments and adapt to its results. However, after the death of many friends, she was no longer able to ignore what was going on (“Katherine”). Journaling her observations of war, Katherine was interrupted by the death of her brother, and moved to the South of France. Like the boy in the “pluck,” Mansfield’s bravery to undergo extensive methods to fight for her life caused her to have frequent leg numbness. Mansfield’s most well-known stories consisted of “The Fly”; this story examines the coping of a father in connection to the innocence of a fly.
The story begins with Mr. Woodfield visiting the protagonist, the boss, at his office. Discussing his daughters recent travels to Belgium, Mr. Woodfield explains her visit to her brother’s grave site. Both of the men have lost sons in the attacks of World War I. Not only did the Woodfield girls visit the sight of their brother, but that of the boss’s son. After discussing the upkeep of the grave with the boss, the whiskey induced conversation is over. Still distraught by the death of his son the boss feels the need to continue his grievance and insist that his assistant gives him a moment alone.
After discussing his son’s grave with Woodfield, the boss envisions the sight of his son in his grave. Realizing that his son would have been head of the firm, he acknowledges that the functionality of his life has drifted. Recollecting in his remodeled office, he spots a fallen fly in his inkpot. The speaker gives life and a voice to the fly depicting him as pleading for help. The slippery sides trapped the fly in forcing the boss to rescue it with a pen. Emerging the body of the fly with the ink of the pen, the fly, like many in war, fights to regain his strength.
Laying upon a paper, surrounded by ink, the fly attempts to rebuild his strength and escape his circumstances. Like man in war, the fly cleans himself up, recoups, and moves on to his next grounds. However, the boss has another idea in mind. Releasing more ink from the pen, the boss intimidates the fly; the fly is now at halt fearing his next battle against the boss and the pink. The battle had begun yet again. As the fly continues to fight the boss examines the perseverance of the fly and his courage.
Though many men are risking their life in war, they never give up and continue to fight for their freedom; the fly did just that. As a result of the “artful” fly’s endurance, the boss insists on helping the fly’s battle by helping him remove and dry the ink. But, the boss insisted on experimenting one more time. Placing the pen closer to paper the ink consumes the abilities of the fly, and wins the fight. With all the encouragement from the boss to fight on, the fly doesn’t and is tossed to trash. The experiment ended and it was time to restart his day (Mansfield).
However, his experiment caused him not to remember his previous thought of his son’s grave. The innocence of the fly can be compared to the innocence of the boss’s son. Determined to live life, the fly, much like the son was put in battles that were out of his control. Every battle the fly encountered the fly continued to recoup and fight everyone as if it was new one. Though fearing his life, he was motivated by his family and his desire to get another chance at life. That idea can be compared to the son lost at war.
While the father finds it hard to accept the anguish that comes along with the death of his son, he finds a way to focus on something different. However, his experiment only exemplified the battles of his son; though the father motivated his son to fight on, “and look sharp about it” there was nothing more the father can do. These experiments may have been one of many used to cope from his emotional distress. The comparison of Mansfield to the fly can also be made. As stated previously, Mansfield suffered from tuberculosis.
As she traveled and explored, she was fighting her illness. With X-rays after x-rays and experimenting with other methods to help her rebuild her health, she continued to suffer. As a writer she wrote to try and remove her mind from her sickness; writing was her means of anguish. With the death of her brother, Mansfield continued to write as a way to express her emotions more indirectly. In the story of “The Fly,” the narration constantly describes the legs of the fly. Her diminishing health due to Tuberculosis cause her to lose feeling in her legs.
Like the fly his lack of movement in his legs, was the first warning sign that he was passing. This is similar to that of Mansfield. While the emotions of the speakers were impacted directly and indirectly, their coping was different yet similar. The young boy in “Pluck” faced his anguish by facing it as he would face battle- strong. Similarly, the boss’s sharpness in experimenting with the fly removed his mind from the distress of his son. While these stories may be a reflection of the author’s experiences, they continue to educate many of the agony people face because of the Great War’s casualties.