Analysis

In these chapters, Barker touches upon issues of class and gender that arose during the First World War. During these years, newspapers wrote about and people discussed the supposed "class harmony" at the front. People were told that the mission to defeat the Germans and the communal living conditions in the trenches worked to solidify all classes of men under one common goal. Unlike at home, where there were significant barriers to the interactions between the upper and lower classes, at the front, people believed these barriers were broken down in a way that was healthy for the nation. Prior dismisses such tales of "class harmony." In his experience, class continues to determine one's place in war, just as it does in peace. Prior is extremely aware of such class distinctions. As a man of the lower-middle class who has been "made ambitious" by his mother and has risen to the rank of officer, he notes carefully the differences in upbringing and education that separate him from the real upper class.

The characters of Lizzie, Sarah, and the munitions girls are used to explore issues of gender. The war has not only changed the men who served in the army; it has also intensely changed the women who have been left at home. It is not at all uncommon for young women to take jobs in factories far from home. They stay in boarding houses with the other workers, supervised by a matron. Still, their jobs allow them freedoms never before imagined. Armed with spending money and free of parental supervision, these women feel the liberty to enjoy themselves as they choose. As Lizzie remarks, "on August 4, 1914…peace broke out." For many women at home, war meant freedom and happiness; not all were so happy it would end.

PLUS

Notes See All Notes
Add your thoughts right here!