Compare the ways in which Owen and Faulks present the experience of war. These two pieces of writing, one a poem by Wilfred Owen called Dulce et Decorum Est and the other, an extract from the novel, ‘Charlotte Gray’ from the chapter ‘The Last Night’ are both set in the World War I and World War II, respectively. There are many contrasts between these two, even thought they are both showing the horrors and the suffering of war.
The poem is written in the first person, which gives the reader a very personal view point and the novel, is written in the third person. This is a very descriptive account of two boys being taken to the concentration camp. The poem is set in the dark trenches and describes the horror of war and how evil and disgraceful it is. Where as in ‘The Last Night’ the setting is at a train station in Paris where the Parisian buses stand “trembling”.
Wilfred Owen describes the experience of war in the first stanza as haunting, bloody and blind. He uses words like “haunting flares” and “blood-shod” this helps us to learn what it would be like to be in the soldiers’ shoes and to see the horrific conditions of the trenches. Owen uses “haunting” in this stanza indicating scary, black, and something that will stay with you forever. Something that will keep coming back and back for all your life like a vivid memory that will never be forgotten. “Haunting flares” would also be considered by the soldiers as a death call because, put yourself in their shoes, it’s dark and you can’t see a thing trying to attack and you duck from enemy fire.
If the enemy sent up a flare they could instantly see you and your comrades. They would start to fire and people on your left and right would drop down, dead. He also uses “blood-shod” to give us the image of a person who is covered in blood from head to toe with cut clothes and missing boots, injured from the bullets from the enemies’ guns. A person who is tired and hungry whilst keeled over looking like zombies with pale skin and now sense of humanity or where they are.
Owen uses metaphorical language to describe the soldiers as “drunk with fatigue”. This suggests to the reader that they are clumsy and tired: they are out of control like someone who is under the influence of alcohol. He also tells us that “Men marched asleep” and that they look like lifeless things, still objects that have no motion. Gas shells are described by Owen as “dropping softly behind” which is an adverb; the shells are dropping softly but are very deadly to the soldiers. Owen tells us that they “Cursed through the sludge” promoting that the soldiers were swearing whilst they were walking towards the enemy, cursing at the enemy for what they are doing.
In the second stanza the mood changes; instead of being dull and dark it suddenly becomes quick and timeless. The soldiers are “fumbling” trying to fit the gas masks otherwise death would certainly be upon them. Owen makes us feel as though we are being attacked, attacked by language. He uses monosyllabic words like “Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! ” these words create a sense excitement. Owen uses the word “ecstasy of fumbling” to emphasise the point of exited grabbing.
Sebastian Faulks presents his story from another perspective. He writes in the third person meaning that he was not there. Faulks gives a descriptive account of two boys being taken to a concentration camp in France during World War II in the 1940s.Faulks describes the people’s experience of war describing the people writing with “sobbing passion” and some with “punctilious care”. This shows their desperation as this could be their last contact with the people they love. The irony of this desperation is that the postcards will not be received by their loved ones. This further adds to their distress because perhaps they already know that the cards will not be received.
Faulks tells us Andre is laying on some straw and dung describing his cheek as a “soft bloom” this contrast compares the roughness of the straw and dung and the smoothness of the bloom of a flower. This shows childhood innocence and the way his life is short lived and how he will never live as a child again. Faulks also describes the change from the train to the “Parisian buses”, he describes the buses as “Homely thudding” and “trembling”. He uses personification which gives the buses a human characteristic. The buses were in a “wired-off corner of the yard” which suggests that it is sinister and not normal. The wires were probably to keep the people from escaping but they would have had no chance to escape from the Nazis.
Faulks tells us that Andre catches sight of a “woman’s face in which the eyes were fixed with terrible ferocity on a child beside him” Andre wondered why she stared at him in anger but then realised that she was staring at him to remember him. Andre felt pain and gloomy for the woman because he knew that she was never going to witness her child again. He felt the fact that she would never see the boy’s face again.