‘Birdsong’ Analysis ; Pages 149 150

1055 words - 5 pages

Within ‘Birdsong’ Faulks uses the character of Stephen as his voice, through which he propounds his horror and perplexity at what is unfolding during the War. Faulks also introduces the idea of a new reality which is experienced by the men in the trenches.

Faulks chooses to explore curiosity as a coping mechanism within ‘Birdsong’ through the character of Stephen. Only curiosity is keeping Stephen alive as he states that he would ‘walk into enemy lines and let (himself) be killed’ if he didn’t possess that curiosity. Stephen tells Weir what he is ‘curious to see what’s going to happen’ suggesting that he wants to see how the War will end. Faulks presents Stephen as a character who has a detached curiosity concerning the War; in the same way that he is detached when discussing men’s dead bodies. Faulks’ decision to do this allows us to understand that many men did not like being in the War; they often did not carry on because they felt it was their duty to King and Country. Rather, they (like the character of Stephen) wanted to know ‘what it means’ and why they had to endure what they did. Stephen’s claim that he is ‘deeply curious to see how much further it can be taken’ quashes false notations of pride in fighting, rather it expresses the horror at what they are being forced to do. Faulks, through Stephen, considers how the War could progress. The war section of ‘Birdsong’ is set half way through the War, meaning that it is still to get worse. Stephen speculates the men ‘will do more. I think they will do ten times more before it’s finished’ relating to the new reality for the men. No matter what they have been forced to endure so far, it can only possibly get worse. Stephen claims that War has ‘barely started’ which also relates to the idea of an ever-worsening situation for the men.

Faulks makes the character of Stephen voice the dislocation between the Home Front and the men in the trenches. Stephen emphasises the fact the people in England have no idea as to what horrors are occurring and that they ‘would not believe their eyes’ if they witnessed it. Stephen states that ‘no one in England knows what this is like’ in reference to the conditions in which the men live. Stephen believes that ‘far worse things will be authorised’ suggesting that it is those in England who are controlling and prolonging the War; often the Generals and Politicians would have been directing the War from England. Faulks decides to explore this point because it was the Home Front who were prolonging the War, yet they were not the ones who had to endure its horrors; this links directly with Siegfried Sassoon’s ‘A Soldier’s Declaration.’ Faulks is suggesting here that he does not agree with the War, and that he believes it should have been ended earlier. Faulks continues to develop the idea of the dislocation between the men and the Home Front when the characters of Stephen and Weir discuss women, who Stephen states ‘belong to a different...

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