The Short and the Tall Essay
The Short and the Tall
We are made aware of the patrol’s attitudes in Act one of ‘The Long, The Short, and the Tall,’ towards the Japanese prisoner from their speech, tone of voice and actions. Johnstone, member of the patrol, shows he has a harsh attitude towards the prisoner. We can see this, as when the prisoner enters the cabin, unaware of the waiting patrol, Johnstone is the first person to grab him. He calls to the others to kill the prisoner as he holds him still. He says ‘Get him! Quick! Do for him! Give it hump! Will you just ram it in?
‘These are very short phrases and are said quickly and in a sharp tone of voice. He also uses allot of colloquial language and never actually says ‘kill him. ‘ This emphasises Johnstone’s urgency and professionalism, but also shows that he has a hard image. Because Johnstone can say all this it proves to us that he has a harsh attitude towards the Japanese prisoner and just wants him out of the way. He says ‘We should have done him when e first turned up. ‘ In other parts of the act Johnstone’s attitude stays the same. He still shows no respect for the prisoner or compassion.
He still believes that the Japanese prisoner should be killed and doesn’t trust him. He says ‘ You think that he’d have second thoughts about putting the mockers on the lot of us? ‘ This rhetorical question shows his distrust of the prisoner. He also shows that he is jealous of the prisoner for all the attention he is now getting from the patrol. He says ‘Two minutes ago you wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole. None of you! ‘ He also said ‘Not one of you had the guts to give me a hand. ‘ This shows he still thinks the prisoner should have been killed.
It shows how he has a ruthless and barbaric attitude towards the prisoner. Also later in the play he has a fight with Bamforth over the prisoner. He is horrible to the prisoner and treats him unfairly. Mitchem has a very different attitude towards the prisoner. He has no feelings for the Prisoner but sees that he can be useful. Mitchem says ‘I want this one alive. ‘ This makes it clear to us that Mitchem has plans. However he still shows no respect towards the Japanese prisoner. We can tell this from the way he tries to speak to the prisoner.
He says ‘ Trust me to cop a raving lunatic! ‘ This refers to the prisoner and emphasises the lack of compassion and respect for the prisoner. Later in the act he shows that he had only one reason to keep the prisoner. Mitchem sees it as an everyday thing. He wants to keep the prisoner so he can be used later. He says to Bamforth ‘He’s in your charge. Look after him. ‘ This proves he still has plans and his attitude is the same. When he realises that the patrol is in danger and is behind enemy lines he decides to ditch the prisoner. He says ‘ We’re ditching him.
This again proves his lack of compassion for the prisoner but also his professionalism. Bamforth has a very similar attitude towards the Japanese prisoner to Johnstone. When no one can bring themselves to kill the prisoner Bamforth steps up as if it was an everyday event and says ‘Its only the same as carving up a pig. Hold him still. ‘ This is a simile and shows us that Bamforth also has no respect for the prisoner but it also shows us that Bamforth is learned of the gang-life in London. This is because of the colloquial language used. He also uses racist language that reflects on the time the play was set.
As in the 1940’s racism was not an issue. Also soldiers used racist language towards the enemy so as to feel better when killing them. He calls him an ‘Asiatic glet’. Johnstone and Mitchem also use this sort of language when they say ‘Wog grub’ and ‘Tojo. ‘ As Mitchem had put Bamforth in charge of the prisoner he began to talk to him. He said ‘Get your hands up on your head! Like this! See! ‘ He then speaks to Evans and says ‘Hey Taff! See that, he did it like I said! ‘ This shows that he has no respect for the prisoner and sees him as an object or pet almost.
Bamforth’s attitudes completely turn around though. As he is looking after the prisoner he begins to get friendly with him and talks to him as a mate or one of the lads. He offers him a cigarette and looks at the prisoner’s photos with him. This disgusts Johnstone and when he leans in to give the prisoner a light he knocks the cigarette out of his mouth. Bamforth then stands up for his new mate and has a fight his own man, Johnstone for him! Bamforth calls the prisoner a bloke, he says to Johnstone ‘ I don’t have to ask you before I give a bloke a fag!
This shows he sees him as a human. He then beats Johnstone until Mitchem has to interrupt. Evans has a different attitude towards the prisoner as he shows he has compassion for other humans and can’t bring himself to kill an unarmed man, at least. He steps up to do the job but then changes his mind. He says ‘ I… I can’t do it corp. ‘ This shows of his compassion for other human beings. It also shows how scared he was for killing someone, hence the stuttering. When he says this, his voice is scared and his whole body is tensed up!
He often takes the situation light heartedly and humorously. He says to Bamforth, ‘I always knew you were an oriental creep at heart man. ‘ This shows how Evans is a friendly and funny person. He has a compassionate attitude towards the prisoner. He actually sees the prisoner as a decent human being. We see Macliesh’s attitude towards the prisoner in this section. He treats the situation with humour at first but then argues with Johnstone about what should have been done to the prisoner. For humour he says ‘He isn’t exactly what you would call a handsome bloke!
This shows that he hasn’t got much respect for the prisoner but he still isn’t as bad as some other members of the patrol. When he is arguing with Johnstone he argues by saying ‘You cannot order men to put a bayonet into an unarmed prisoner. ‘ He also says ‘Haven’t you heard of the Geneva Connection. ‘ This shows how he is professional in his job and sticks to the rules. It also shows that he may not have the same intentions as Mitchem but still believes the prisoner should be kept. Because the prisoner has been stripped of his arms by the patrol they cannot kill the prisoner.
If they were to kill him it would be illegal, murder. Because the patrol have already found out that they are behind enemy lines the prisoner is no longer of any use to them. This links to inter-relationships between the groups of characters in the play. The professional soldiers, with the higher ranks (Mitchem, Macleish and Johnstone) talk about the delicate issues while the others (privates) seem to have a bit of a laugh and mess around while not on duty. The professionals talk about the problem they have with the Japanese soldier. They decide they have to kill him!
They discuss this important issue while the other members of the patrol become mates with the prisoner. Mitchem says ‘ We’re ditching him! ‘ What will the prisoners new friends think about this? It is illegal to kill the prisoner as he has become a prisoner of war and has no arms, however he will be a danger and a burden to the patrol! The rest of the patrol hardly show interest in the prisoner, they are interested but forget about it after they are told to carry on with there business. They aren’t main characters in this part of the play.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 6 July 2017