Monday, November 16, 2009

The Naked and the Dead (4).

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.


Martinez’s terror developed in a void; the moment he had to lead men, his courage returned.” p. 113.

“…but there was a part of his mind that drove him to do things he feared and detested.” p. 114.

“…the trail was a treadmill and they no longer concerned themselves with where they were going.” p. 115.

“His ears were keyed to all the sounds of the night, and from long experience he sifted out the ones that were meaningless.” p. 118.

“…he could not have said at that moment where his hands ended and the machine gun began….” p. 122.

“In the light of the flare, the bodies looked as limp and unhuman as bags of grain.” p. 122.

“A consignment of fresh meat came in, and headquarters company’s ration of it was divided equally. Half went to the one hundred and eighty enlisted men…and the other half went to the thirty-eight officers in officers’ mess.” p. 131.

“Stupid ass, he thought, and immediately afterward, with a shock, he realized the trace of contempt he was beginning to feel for an enlisted man—slight, barely apparent, and yet it was there.” p. 133.

The General: “We have the highest standard of living in the world and, as one would expect, the worst individual fighting soldiers of any big power. They’re comparatively wealthy, they’re spoiled…the reverse of the peasant, and I’ll tell you right now it’s the peasant who makes the soldier….”

Hearn: “So what you’ve got to do is break them down….”

The General: “Every time an enlisted man sees an officer get an extra privilege, it breaks him down a little more.”

Hearn: “They’d hate you more.

The General: “They do, but they also fear us more.” p. 138.

To be continued.

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