Outline for CH. 2 Hoffman's "The Twenties"
June 30, 2007 10:16am CST
Hoffman Outline Ch.2: The War and the Postwar Temper I. The War to Save Ideals: II. Wharton and Cansfield: German vulgarity was a threat to Edith Wharton and she approved of the war, even though she was well are of the consequences. “Art and religion on one side, vulgarity and militarism on the other: this was the issue, in all its bare simplicity of meaning.” (Hoff 67). Miss Wharton and Miss Cansfield had not been in the war, but had written about it in their books. However, their descriptions of the battle were secondhand and not as reliable as other authors who had written about the war experience. III. Writing about the War: “The second failure was more serious: they could not have possibly have had an experience similar in kind to Hemingway’s; they were older by at least two decades; the shock of war could not have been the same, for theirs was a shock suffered by noncombatants well behind the lines, and in one case across the Atlantics.” (Hoff 67). “Not only years but intellectual experience separated the two attitudes toward the war. To the older generation the war was fought to sustain their convictions that America’s only hope of a tradition lay in the survival of France and of England; that here was the culture Americans must imitate. For the most part the young men went into war without a sense of tradition except what they had found in a few years at Harvard or elsewhere.” (Hoff 70) IV. The Nightmare: V. Writing about the War: “Most of the writers of war fiction went into the war before the United States officially declared its intentions in April 1917. In much of the literature of the 1920’s there is an untidy eagerness to ‘get into the thick of it,’ to be doing something, to push up toward the front before the excitement is over.”(Hoff 71). Hemingway was a reliable source in writing about the war, because he experienced the war effects firsthand when he was wounded by a shell in the northern Italian front. “Whatever the actual experience, these men were introduced to a world of violence, an irrational world in which vulgarity, filth confusion, and unreason were the rule instead of the unpleasant exception. The large underlying purposes of the war were not real to them.” (Hoff 74). This was not a war that had heroic causes, it was an unjust war, it was fought for greed and imperialism. “For Hemingway and others courage was a word used to signify an instinctive move toward or away from the center of violence, with self-preservation. For postwar novelists human acts on the battlefield often began and ended in cowardice. The strangeness of the war is perhaps the most relevant of these: France and Germany were engaged in the most recent phase of an old quarrel. The sympathies of America were largely, though not entirely, with France. (Hoff 76). “The postwar American was almost abnormally sensitive to a form of experience that may be best described by the term ‘violation’, a term that indicated what happened to their sense of dignity and security as the result of events that had little of nothing to do with them.” (Hoff 77) VI. “ I Had Seen Nothing Sacred”: VII. Pointlessness and Cruel Nature of the War: “Three actions are prominent in the war literature of the 1920s: the war was a monstrous hoax, an unendurable outrage committed by the elders, who were brutal, insensitive, and stupid; the war as a violent re-education of the soldier in the ugliness and the scatological realities underlying the surface of decorum. Dos Passos’ thesis was simple enough, the war was absurd , it led not only to the destruction of abbeys but to the collapse of trust in the noble thoughts of adventurous minds of the past. American interest in European churches underwent a spectacular revision in the war years.” (Hoff 78) VIII. “The Unreasonable Wound”: IX. Hemingway's influence by the War: ‘Somehow the world broke in two in 1922.. and she thought it not unlikely that World War I had been at least partially responsible.. The extreme form of imbalance between death and life is caused by violence. The most widely disparate forms are violence caused by strong emotion and that made possible by efficient technological means.” (Hoff 88) Hemingway’s leg injury in WWI in Italy was a life-changing experience and he wrote about it in his “In Our Time” series of short stories. X. Psychological and Physical wounds: War is traumatic for all who are involved, it is not only physically devastating , but also emotionally devastating. “The most important consequence of a traumatic shock is that the experience that caused it is recalled again and again.” (Hoff 88). War is horrible and its effects leave an indelible mark in your mind. Many soldiers must also combat post-traumatic stress disorder all throughout their lifetime, even years after the war has ended. “A severe injury to the body suggests a comparably severe injury of the psychic nature. The injured man will not rest until he has found what is to him a meaningful and original pattern of adjustment.” (Hoff 90). Although painful, a therapeutic way of dealing with such emotional distress is to write what you feel, like Hemingway and other writers have done. The character Nick Adams in “In Our Time” is haunted by war and his painful childhood, adolescence, his going to war, and accepting life changes. He writes about his experience of getting wounded and watching other soldiers die. “The Sun Also Rises” deals with prominent 1920’s issues such as the KKK, Prohibition, Alcoholism, Expatriates, Bolshevism and Fascism, Religion, WWI. “The Sun Also Rises is not a cheap exploitation of postwar interest in immortalities, but a perceptive portrayal of the human condition within the rigorous limits of circumstance which the postwar world had imposed.” (Hoff 106)