Friday, November 13, 2009

The Naked and the Dead (3).

Norman Mailer. New York: The New American Library: A Signet Book. 1948.

Why read it? The thoughts of the enlisted man before and during the fighting. The antagonism of the enlisted man for the officer. The thoughts of the General who had complete power over the men under his control. The General, who finally suspected that he had had nothing to do with the victory.


“The jungle was hushed, ominous, with a commanding silence that stilled his breath…and abruptly the utter vacuum was broken and he was conscious of all the sounds of the night woods—the crickets and frogs and lizards thrumming the bush, the soughing of the trees.” p. 91.

Sgt. Brown: “If you fire without seeing anything to aim at, you just give away the position of your hole and they’ll throw a grenade in on you.” p. 92.

Wyman was sitting on his pack, and when he closed his eyes and let the rumble of the truck shake through him he felt as if he were in a subway.” p. 97.

“He had been through so much combat, had felt so many kinds of terror, and had seen so many men killed that he no longer had any illusions about the inviolability of his own flesh.” p. 98.

“He knew he could be killed; it was something he had accepted long ago, and he had grown a shell about the knowledge so that he rarely thought of anything further ahead than the next few minutes.” p. 98.

Red: “There ain’t a good officer in the world…. They’re just a bunch of aristocrats, they think” p. 102.

“Once or twice a flare filtered a wan and delicate bluish light over them…in the brief moment it lasted, they were caught at their guns in classic straining motions that had the form and beauty of a frieze.” p. 106.

“In the darkness, distance had no meaning, nor did time.” p. 106.

“Somewhere deep inside himself was a wonder at the exhaustion his body could endure.” p. 107.

“But he had always imagined combat as exciting, with no misery and no physical exertion.” p. 107.

To be continued.

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