Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Naked and the Dead (5).

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 General: “…to make an army work you have to have every man in it fitted into a fear ladder…. Army functions best when you’re frightened of the man above you, and contemptuous of your subordinates…. The hate just banks in them, makes them fight a little better…. …can’t turn it on us, so they turn it outward.” p. 139.

The General: “The machine techniques of this century demand consolidation, and with that you’ve got to have fear, because the majority of men must be subservient to the machine, and it’s not a business they instinctively enjoy.” p. 140.

The General: “The natural role of twentieth-century man is anxiety.” p. 140.

The General: “…in the Army the idea of individual personality is a hindrance…. I work with grosser techniques, common denominator techniques.” p. 143.

Red: “Don’t kid yourself…. A man’s no more important than a goddam cow.” p. 157.

“Very deep inside himself he [Red] was thinking that this [corpse] was a man who had once wanted things, and the thought of his own death was always a little unbelievable to him…had had a childhood, a youth, and young manhood, and there had been dreams and memories…realizing with surprise and shock, as if he were looking at a corpse for the first time, that a man was really a very fragile thing.” p. 171.

“Where is the beauty we lost in our youth?” p. 182.

“Ya lose whatever you want when you start goin’ for it.” p. 182.

“But if you stop and quit moving you die.” p. 185.

“Red thought of the mother Wyman would have to support if he married his girl, and he had a quick elliptic knowledge of everything that would contain—the arguments, the worries over money, the grinding extinction of their youth until they would look like the people who walked by them in the park….” p. 203.

To be continued.

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