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.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 sound human it sounds shocking and gruesome. Faulks shows the brutal and shocking conditions through Tipper physical conditions: ‘His thin body was rigid and they could see the contortions of his facial muscles beneath the skin. He was screaming for his home’ Faulks uses the words ‘contortions’ and ‘rigid’ to show the horrible conditions of Tipper and the fact that he is helpless and no one could help him through his fears. This shows how inhuman the conditions of the soldiers were, the reader would also feel sympathy for the soldier emotions as he is screaming to be home, this shows how horrific and painful was the shrill that did hit him. The fact that he was innocent as he did not ask any of this to happen makes the reader more emotionally involved and more compassionate towards the soldier. Faulks is trying to make the reader understand the inhumanity and futility of war: ‘ A direct hit would obliterate all physical evidence that a man had existed’ the verb ‘existence’ makes a big impact to the reader emotions, as it shows how a simple machine can cause such harm, to kill people. Faulks is trying to make the reader think and feel remorseful in a way, about the consequences of war and the loss of life. At the time it seemed acceptable killing the “enemy” and fighting for your country, however they did not have any comprehension of the real motive of going to war. This could link with the poem ‘Futility’ by Wilfred Owen: ‘To break earth’s sleep at all’ this shows how futile and inhuman the war was for every soldiers because the soldiers were trapped, physically and mentally tortured in the war and died without real motive.Faulks develops his presentation of death and shows how complacent the soldiers are as Weir death achieves nothing. Faulks uses of visual imagery helps the reader understand the horror and reality of war ‘a sniper’s bullet entered his head above the eye causing trails of his brain to loop out’ the word loop out makes the reader feel shocked on how cruel and unjust his death was as it foreshadows the fact that most of the soldiers must have died in that way, without even realising on how fast you could die from just a bullet. Faulks shows how life quickly ends through Weir’s death: ‘Then it fell like a puppet’. The use of the personification and simile of ‘like a puppet’ makes the reader imagine the dreadful death that Weir had, and think about how quick you can lose your life, the use of the word it dehumanised the soldiers and degrades them to not being worthy of the title. This suggest that the loss of life was quick almost for every soldier and unexpected which means that people won’t remember about all the names of soldiers that have died, they are generalised as a whole and people eventually forget about them and the sacrifice they made for our country. Faulks uses Weir to create an emotional attachment with the reader to show how his death can be so cruel: ‘Weir’s terror under The guns has been a conductor for his own fear’. The use of the words ‘conductor for his own fear’ shows how Weir knew that he was going to die at some point throughout the war, as all soldiers are afraid to be killed which emphasize the fact that most of the soldiers die in unexpected moments like if they are waiting for their death to come so they could have no more pain. The reader would feel shocked by Weir’s death as he was one of the most lovable characters throughout the novel which shows that war was cruel and unjust for every soldier that have died during the war.Faulks shows how death can be related to everyone else in an emotional side through Jack’s death. The cruel death in the novel allows Faulks’ to build sympathy in the reader and portray the emotional side of death. Faulks shows how soldiers were willing to die without any emotional attachment to reality: ‘Love had betrayed him, and he no longer wished to be reunited with his life’. ‘The word “betrayed’ shows how soldiers in World War One have lost all their hope and did not longer wish to be alive. Soldiers have seen too much horror and inhuman actions, which makes the reader feel sympathy for Jack as the only love he had was for his beloved son which also passed away.Faulks shows that their humanity comes back only when dead: ‘ He felt tranquillity at the moments when his pain left him’ The juxtaposition of tranquillity and pain shows how soldiers find peace only when they die. Faulks uses repetition to convey the monotony and futility of war: ‘I don’t want that. Don’t want that’. The repetition show that Jack, as most of the soldiers during the war, have lost the hope for wishing their own life to be saved they wish their own death instead so that all the suffering and pain would come to an end; this make a great impact to the reader as it shows how death can be so cruel, inhuman and futile. This is similar to the poem ‘Come On, Come Back’ by Stevie Smith: ‘Sleeps on, stirs not, hears not the familiar tune’. This shows that both writers focus on the tranquillity and peacefulness of death, because it shows how soldiers were fed up with their own lives.In conclusion Faulks shows how death can be portrayed in positive and negative ways. During the war soldiers had seen their own death as a positive thing in a way, as many soldiers still had religious beliefs and therefore did wish to be reunited with God and be in a better place. Some soldiers however did experienced horrendous deaths and the concept of death was seen as inhuman and futile also, in an emotional way as they did see their friends dying for no real motive.


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