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JOURNEYS END & STRANGE MEETING

JOURNEYS END & STRANGE MEETING

The frontline battlefront and home line homefront of war held opposing attitudes especially regarding the effect on the soldiers’ emotions. With propaganda and patriotism encouraging so many men to enlist, they entered the trench life na�ve and unprepared for how war was going to change their lives. The families who were lucky enough to have their loved ones return home, had to welcome changed men. They left their homes as young boys proud to serve their country but returned with the emotional turmoil of dealing with the consequences of their experiences. RC Sherriff and Susan Hill both use specific treatments in their development of their central characters to build upon the theme of loss of youthfulness and innocence.
In Journey’s End, Stanhope is evidence of the transformation that men went through whilst at war. A once spirited and eager young man, he now cannot serve without being intoxicated with alcohol. Loss of youth is truly evident in this character. He will continue to battle with the addiction of drink, in order to cope with the horrific sights suffered, whilst serving. Although Journey’s End is only based over four days, 18 March 1918 to 21 March 1918, in the trenches, Stanhope fluctuates between his unstable and drunken state as he must continue with his duties. As he is not a new officer, we, as the reader, only journey with him on his unstable side, which is made evident, when he loses control in act one, “all of a sudden he jumped up and knocked all the glasses off the table.” (WE don’t see this – what is the effect of having it reported?)
His states of emotions become truly evident when Raleigh joins his battalion. A “keen” schoolboy, full of false expectations, who knows Stanhope o a personal level through his sister who is Stanhope’s girlfriend. Raleigh’s arrival truly shows Stanhope’s vulnerability and insecurity. Whilst discussing Raleigh’s arrival with a fellow officer , Osborne, Stanhope insists on censoring Raleigh’s letters to ensure he doesn’t reveal Stanhope’s new dependency on alcohol. “You know he’ll write and tell her I reek of whisky all day.” Stanhope resents Raleigh’s arrival and worries that he will become aware of the devastating effects brought on him through war.
Raleigh admires Stanhope for his devotion to duty, his service and his hero-worship and naivety becomes evident when he reveals he thought it was coincidence which brought him to Stanhope’s battalion, “I was frightfully keen to get into Dennis’s regiment. I thought, perhaps, with a bit of luck I might get to the same battalion.” It soon becomes evident that Stanhope does not appreciate Raleigh’s devotion and admiration , when he overreacts, “Stanhope clutches Raleigh’s wrist and tears the letter from his hand.” Raleigh is a reminder of who Stanhope used to be, when he joined, and Stanhope resents him for his immature expectations of life at the Front.He believes Raleigh needs to grow up and rid himself of his false expectations, like thousands of other schoolboys who are forced to abandon their youth and grow up into men, if they are to survive. This stage indicates a turning point in what Raleigh is going to experience in his brief and tragic time at the Front..
Susan Hill uses Strange Meeting as a journey not only of service to the war but of a friendship which grows during each chapter. Barton and Hilliard, who have met from different family backgrounds, come together to support each other as a team. However, they had to engage each others’ personalities in order to gain an understanding of one another; this has led them to growing up quickly.
Barton, who is a calm, open and friendly young man , is transformed emotionally from child to father figure to Hilliard. Hilliard is changed by Barton, enabling him to open up and express himself personally to someone. Hilliard has been at the Front before and he represents experience because of this. However, Barton is the one who stabilises and prepared Hilliard for what he will experience and how to share the experience with others, showing support. These are two young boys, taking on large commitments to serve their country. YOU MUST USE QUOTATIONS TO SUBSTANTIATE WHAT YOU SAY
The stresses of these commitments begin to have their effects. A visible change of Barton is evident, which is a key turning point in the novel. He becomes the same as all the other soldiers, “his eyes had taken on the common look of shock and misery…the texture of his flesh was altered, grained and worn.” All due to the feeling of guilt and responsibility for a fellow soldier, Harris’ death. Each and every soldier went through these emotions when they lost their friends. Their innocence is lost as they have to experience bereavement daily and independently but are expected to continue to fight.
When Barton last spoke to Hilliard he said, “you must never worry about me again.” These are not words which you would expect someone so young to say. Barton no longer values his life. Although this comment does not reflect his age it does in fact show a maturity that he understands the inevitability of death. Susan Hill portrays a loss of youthfulness through new attitudes gained from experiences at war. The young men had no choice but to grow up.
Raleigh also is seen to have matured, which is expected of him. Once a schoolboy who spoke of ‘rugger,’ is now not afraid to stand up to Stanhope, “facing him squarely”, he has gained confidence from the war. However, his service abruptly ends, after three days, when he is killed. Realistically, it is impossible to mature over this short period of time, but war is not a realistic lifestyle to be living in. Therefore, Sherriff has managed to develop the character of Raleigh through his journey at war and the people he has journeyed with.
Journey’s End and Strange Meeting both hold strong dependency on their characters to ensure the reader journeys with them personally. By using characterisation it is easier for the reader to connect with the changed and emotions that the characters go through.
Both authors, Hill and Sherriff, use similar characters, for example Stanhope and Hilliard are used to represent how the experienced soldiers dealt with war, as they have both served before.
Sherriff particularly references to Stanhope’s new dependency. Alcohol is his lever of pain and the only way he seems to gain authority over himself emotionally although physically it is doing the opposite of this. He represents a broken man, who should be becoming personally dependant and thinking of his future with his girlfriend but instead breaks down and gives in to alcohol daily. Loss of innocence and youthfulness are truly represented through characterisation.
Alcohol dependency is how Sherriff represents change, compared to Hill’s use of characterisation within a journey. Hilliard has returned to war after taking leave due to injury. He deals with war by detaching himself mentally from his actions. Hill introduces Barton into Hilliard’s life. By having contradictory characters together in a pressurised environment, Hill takes the read through the bond they share. Therefore, the changes of characters personalities become more evident and the loss of youthfulness and innocence are easier to recognise.
In conclusion, propaganda encouraged the young to enlist, with families and friends pressurising those who did not. They were filled with false expectations and were na�ve to the effects of war to the lives, if they were to return. As explored, many young men left their families, never to return, giving their lives to the glorification of war. The vulnerability of their youth was soon crushed by the true realities of war and a whole generation was wiped out, leaving many wives widows, at such young ages. Sherriff and Hill, use the frontline perspective of war to express the changes men went through due to the circumstances of their daily routines. Characterisation through dependency and journeys are used to express the characters emotions. Especially for Journey’s End, a small period of their lives serving has changed so many people’s lives at the time and still to this day.

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