The Fly by Katherine Mansfield and Disabled by Wilfred Owen Essay
The Fly by Katherine Mansfield and Disabled by Wilfred Owen
Exploring the connections between memory and trauma in “The Fly” by Katherine Mansfield and “Disabled” by Wilfred Owen In these works “The Fly” by Katherine Mansfield and “Disabled” by Wilfred Owen both reflect on the relations with memory and trauma from the First World War. Mansfield shows her connection through a father who lost his son at war and struggles with reminiscing his son’s death. Mansfield shows how the character starving for attention on the looks of his office to forget the painful damage the war has caused him. Owen writes his story from a soldier’s point of view that was in war and is now disabled from the war. The former soldier was unaware of what war actually was and only signed up because of the attention he got from others. Mansfield shows the terrifying memories of war coming from a family member’s mental point of view: “He did not draw old Woodifield’s attention to the photograph over the table of a grave-looking boy in uniform” (425), the photograph above the table is of the boss’s son. Mansfield writes; “‘My son’ groaned the boss. But no tears came yet” (page 427), she shows the boss is struggling with memories of the death of his son.
Owen presents his speaker as one who was in the war and faces trauma physically: “He sat in a wheeled chair….Legless, sewn short at elbow” (line 1-3), the former soldier lost his limbs at war. He loses the feeling of being with a woman: “Now he will never feel again how slim girls’ waists are,” (11,12) he lost his sense of caressing a woman again. Mansfield shows her character in hunger for the attention of others, she writes: “‘I’ve had it done up lately, he explained, as he explained for the past-how many?-weeks” (425) the boss craves the attention of others noticing his office and the fine details. When the boss repeats the phrase: “‘Look sharp’” (429), it shows that the character has high expectations for the people around him and for his son’s return home from the war. Owens shows the speaker engaging the attention of others by signing up for war not knowing the possible outcomes: “He thought he’d better join. —He wonders why….Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts [unpredictable women]” (24-27), he signs up only to get the attention from others especially women.
Owen writes: “Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal” (37) the attention the speaker had got when he first signed up was not the attention he had gotten anymore. Both characters are now left with permanent damage from the war, Mansfield shows that the character is more mentally damaged from the war with loss of his son: “Six years ago, six years…. How quickly time passed!” (428), the war has robbed his son from him. When the boss is tormenting the fly with his ink: “The last blot fell on the soaked blotting-paper, and the draggled fly lay in it and did not stir” (429), he is reminded the constant struggle in remembering the death of his son. The speaker in Owens poem is not only left with constant memories of the war but also left with physical damage too: “There was an artist silly for his face, For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now he is old; his back will never brace; He’s lost his color very far from here” (14-17) the war stole his baby face looks and replaced him with a face that was trampled by war. In these works the writers have different views of the war. Mansfield’s story is presented from family members view and how the war affected his mental view. He is struggling with himself in remembrance of his son’s death so he craves the attention of others but is still reminded what the war has robbed him of. Owen’s writes his story more in first person; his character was ignorant about war and signed up to get the attention of others. The speaker is now left with mental and physical damage from the war. Each works provide insight on how cruel war is by the views the writers present them in.
Mansfield, Katherine. “The fly.” Introduction to Literature 5th Ed. Eds, Findlay et. al. Toronto: Nelson 2004. 425-429. Owen, Wilfred. “Disabled.” Introduction to Literature 5th Ed. Eds, Findlay et. al. Toronto: Nelson 2004. 247-248.
Subject: World War II,
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 December 2016
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