Through the effects of confusion, corruption of individuals, and destruction of societies’ standard structure, it will be proven that war changes people by cataloging a chaotic atmosphere. Confusion is perhaps one of the most powerful anxieties that one can experience. Quite often, it can cause an individual to greatly diverge from themselves. For this reason it is rare that confusion is found by itself, seeing as it is usually accompanied by other complications; stress and mental instability are but a few.
Robert Ross kills a man in the battlefield, and instantly becomes submerged in a state of confusion: “He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t speak. He could barely see. He sat with his head between his knees. He didn’t even know the gun was still in his hand until he reached with it to wipe the mud from his face. ” (Finley, 130). Robert Ross experiences a sudden flush of confusion and stress. Ross cannot breathe, speak, or see: thus, he is without sense. This conveys the theme of confusion for the reader. Throughout the novel, confusion is used to establish the presence of chaos and foreshadow future events.
Later on in the novel, Robert Ross undergoes a traumatic experience that leaves him in an utter state of confusion and violation. The previous experience is described in the following quotation: “The towel was suddenly yanked from his hand and he stood there naked and defenseless. He put his hand down to cover his scrotum, which suddenly felt as if it were going to be hit. His eyes felt the same and he wanted to cover them for fear he would be blinded but he didn’t dare. He needed his other hand to defend himself. He feared an attack with weapons. ” (Finley, 174).
This passage describes the events leading up to the violent rape that Ross’ unknown assailants committed. Leading up to the rape cane, Timothy Finley performs a remarkable Job in producing an atmosphere of confusion by consolidating Ross’ thoughts. The author incorporates these emotions because they provide excellent rising action to the chaotic environment that is being portrayed in the war. Confusion can affect a soldier while they are amidst battle. When Robert Ross is called to kill a horse, he suffers a flashback of his sister’s death: “He fired.
A chair fell over his mind. He closed his eyes and opened them. ” (Finley, 68). This is a significant passage because it how’s the psychological effects that killing has on a soldier. When the passage mentions “a chair [that] fell over his mind”, it is referring to the sound of the chair falling that symbolized Rowena Ross’ death. When Robert Ross kills another living thing, his guilty conscience kicks in because instead of watching his sister at the time of her death, he was “making love to his pillows”. The definition of chaos is; complete disorder and confusion.
Confusion arrives as a complication itself, and along with it comes many other complexities, ultimately together creating chaos. Ordinary people who choose to enlist in the army are transformed into a soldier through la series of grueling exercises and disciplinary activities. The purpose of this transformation is to prepare the soldier for the extreme psychological and physical vicissitudes that they will face in battle. More often than not the psychological effects corrupt people in a manner that no human should ever be faced with.
In a scenario where a soldier, for the first time sees a dead body, he tells another soldier: “… After a while you see them everywhere [dead bodies] and you sort of accepted it… Still maintain that an ordinary human being has the right to be horrified by a mangled body seen on an afternoon walk. ” (Finley, 102). This quotation refers to the corruption associated with war and introduced the initial theme of chaos. When conditions have reached the point where seeing another dead man is something you “accept” and walk past without startle, the corruption has already begun.
In this chaotic environment it becomes clear that corruption of individuals is slowly beginning to take effect. Perhaps the worst aspect of this is that civilians and soldiers are affected by sightings such as this. When the general public becomes affected, the magnitude of corruption increases, and things become more chaotic. Next being absent from loved ones can cause a soldier to crave the feeling of human connection. The following quotation describes the horrendous rape that Robert Ross suffered: “All he could feel was the shape of the man who entered him and the terrible strength of the force with which it was done.
His assailants, who he’d thought were crazies, had been his fellow soldiers. Maybe even his brother officers… He’d never know’ (Finley, 175). This passage is rueful, and one can sense the feeling of chaos, and corrupted minds. War takes its participants in as innocent, scared, and moral men, and changes them into guilty, fearless, immoral soldiers. As the corruption of the people during the time of the war increase, the amounts of anarchy and chaos increase. Robert was an innocent soldier, who in many ways was violated in a way that forces most men to cringe at the thought.
With a life changing experience, it only makes sense that Robert would leave the war a changed man. However Robert is but one example of a changed man. Those soldiers have been changed. Through the cruel course of war they have descended to a level of indecency to which turns the stomach of any reader. Soldiers must sometimes perform some terrible tasks that many people would not agree with. Sometimes these tasks are so disturbing that soldiers wonder if they will be forgiven as explained by Lady Juliet during a journal entry: “Someone once said to Clive: do you think we will ever be forgiven for what we’ve done?
They meant their generation and the war and what the war had done to civilization. Clive said something Vive never forgotten. He said: “l doubt we’ll ever be forgiven. All I hope s – they’ll remember we were human beings. ” (Finley, 162). This quotation demonstrates that soldiers wonder if other people will remember that they are humans. This must mean that they are performing some inhumane tasks that they know are not acceptable thus requiring them to question whether or not they will be forgiven.
Underneath the layers of chaos and corruption that war implements lies a once-innocent man that was once a part of a structured society. Sometimes all that holds this world together is the structure of our society, if it were to fall apart, in many regards so would the human ace. War creates an eerie atmosphere that represents the declining social structure. The setting of a town during the war is described as: “1915. The year itself looks sepia and soiled-muddied like its pictures. In the snapshots everyone at first seems timid-lost-irresolute.
Boys and men squinting at the camera. ” (Finley, 7). This passage represents the deterioration of social structure because it described the people as “timid”, “lost”, and “irresolute” because everybody has a sense of uncertainty. During war, one does not know what will happen ext; one day all could be peaceful and the next they could be facing attacks from enemies. Additionally, the passage describes the boys and men squinting into the camera rather than smiling. This is likely because they are scared of being conscripted to fight in the war.
War also transforms normal land into battlefields which are scattered with spent rounds, craters from explosions, and rotting corpses. This environment is described as: “Houses, trees and fields of flax once flourished here. Summers had been blue with flowers. Now it was a hallow sea of stinking grey from end to end. And this is where you fought the war. ” (Finley, 71). This quote demonstrates the overall decay of structured society because war takes land that was once thriving with different aspects of society – such as houses, trees, people, and flowers – and turns it into a wasteland.
It takes a society that once had potential for something great and pummels it into the ground. Lastly, war brings out the savage side of society in which killing is Justified and even encouraged. Even some of those who previously purported war have changed their opinions, as demonstrated in this quotation: “But that night – surrounded by all that dark – and all those men in pain – and the trains kept bringing us more and more and more – and the war was never, never, never going to end – that night, I thought: I am ashamed to be alive.
I am ashamed of life. And I wanted to offer some way out of life… ” (Finley, 194). This quote is significant because it depicts a realistic outlook on war. There is a lot of pain and suffering, and although the death toll is steadily rising, men are still Ewing shipped out to war to risk their life for their country. It represents the destruction that has been introduced via the war. It is impossible for any individual to not change with this level of despair around them.
Gorham is amazing! Not only does war cause physical destructions, but the destruction of hope, life, being and the very things that make us humans, collectively, it destroys us. In conclusion, war changes people by inducing a chaotic environment. It begins with confusion, and when situations become blurry and people are confused, corruption finds its way into play. As individuals become more corrupted, society is left with a broken foundation. With no foundation, everything falls apart.
The only word to describe this state of order is chaos. One looks back and realizes that everything has changed, including the people. War changes people, it’s that simple. To introduce an entire country of people to a world of disorder and expect them not to adapt would be like throwing a dog in water and telling it not to swim. People do what is necessary to survive, even when it is ugly. Regardless, people change, through chaos, through war.