Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Naked and the Dead (7).

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: “The average man always sees himself in relation to other men as either inferior or superior.” p. 254.

The General: "I’ve been trying to impress you, Robert, that the only morality of the future is a power morality, and a man who cannot find his adjustment to it is doomed. One thing about power…it can flow only from the top down; when there are little surges of resistance at the middle levels, it merely calls for more power to be directed downward, to burn it out…. You can consider the Army, Robert, as a preview of the future.” p. 255.

“He [Hearn] liked very few people and most men sensed it uneasily after talking to him for a few minutes.” p. 258.

“…regular-fellow ethic borrowed from more exclusive eastern prep schools: you do not lie… you do not cheat… you do not swear… you do not screw… and you go to church.” p. 262.

Hearn makes himself a schedule which charts everything down to the fifteen minutes he can allow himself to read the comic pages on Sunday morning and the movie he can see on Saturday night. p. 265.

“They argue for an hour and Hearn listens to the names…. Few are familiar to him, Ibsen and Shaw and Galsworthy, but he has never heard of Strindberg, Hauptmann, Marlowe, Lope De Vega, Webster, Pirandello…and he tells himself desperately that he must read.” p. 267.

Hearn: “It seems to me you just do the thing that seems best at the moment, and worry about the rest of it later….” The General: “That’s bourgeois morality….” p. 270.

“One play he never quite forgets: a ball carrier on the opposing team breaks through a hole in the line, is checked momentarily, and is standing there stock upright, and helpless, when Hearn tackles him…has charged with all his strength and the player is taken off the field with a wrenched knee…. I’m sorry. Only he knows he isn’t. There had been an instant of complete startling gratification when he knew the ball carrier was helpless, waiting to be hit.” p. 271.

“Everything is crapped up, everything is phony, everything curdles when you touch it.” p. 275.

“He thought of the war, which would stretch on forever….after this island there’s gonna be another one and then another one. There’s no future in the whole goddam thing.” p. 280.

To be continued.

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