Murray, Don, 1917-||Rodney, Robert M.
M.S. (Master of Science)
Department of English
American fiction; Soldiers in literature
A certain complex of attitudes found in the soldiers of modem American war fiction is first discovered in Henry Fleming of Crane's Red Badge of Courage. Fleming reveals attitudes which may be seen later in the heroes of Hemingway, Mailer, Jones and Burns. In all the heroes, disillusionment, confusion and preoccupation with self-preservation manifest themselves in varying degrees of intensity depending upon the author's philosophy and his experience with the material. The last character, Heller's Yossarian, shows a distinct change in outlook from that of his predecessors. Hemingway's Frederic Henry exhibits an attitude of nihilism brought about by the aimless society in which he lived as a civilian and by the wanton death and misery he sees on the Italian front. He deserts but finds that life is still the aggressor waiting to kill him. Mailar’s Valsen and Jones's Prewitt are parallel figures. Children of the Depression, both find in the Army an escape from responsibility but also a prison barring them from self-determination. They are without illusion of goodness or peace, are fatalistic about their destinies. Burns's Patrick is the prosaic citizen soldier. He was nothing as a civilian, is nothing as a soldier. His realization of this fact links his attitude to the attitudes of all the preceding characters. Yossarian is the exception. His only aim in life is to survive. He can see no valid reason for his death. As a result of this feeling he disregards all the values of society which might place him in danger. His is the final attitude of man in a society which is seemingly bent on destroying itself.
Fuhs, Theodore W., "Attitudes of the American soldier in the modern war novel" (1965). Graduate Research Theses & Dissertations. 1572.
v, 66 pages
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