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Explore Faulks Presentation Of Friendship And How The War Affected These Friendships.

1169 words - 5 pages

In Sebastian Faulks' novel Birdsong there are a number of friendships that are affected by the war. Faulks presents these relationships in a way that allows the reader to explore how much they are affected by the war. Are these friendships a way for the men to cling to some sort of human connection in the midst of something so horrible that they become 'indifferent to death’?
Faulks chooses to focus on the very different relationships between Stephen Wraysford with both Michael Weir and Jack Firebrace. Although the relationships are different they are both forged through the circumstances of war. This is more evident in Wraysford’s relationship with Firebrace in parts two and six, where they ...view middle of the document...

This is presented through Faulks use of harsh language used by those in command when speaking of the tunnellers.
Firebrace saves Wraysford's life when he goes to ‘do his duty as a Christian’ after finding out Wraysford was "dead", however he discovers that he is just barely holding onto life and ‘pitched into Jack’s arms’. These two characters are constantly being drawn to each other through circumstances of the war. Faulks presents this through their ability to show up and save each other despite barely knowing each other. They do not have much contact with each other after these encounters as Faulks is displaying how circumstantial their friendship and the war situation was through Wraysford and Firebrace’ friendship.
In comparison to Stephen and Firebrace's fleeting and circumstantial encounters throughout part two of the novel, Weir and Wraysford seem to be constantly together, one of the minor characters remarks on this, 'I believe their inseparable, sir', showing that despite Wraysford is a ‘cold bastard’ he is like the other solider in the novel, who all have one person they are particularly close with. For example Firebrace is particularly close to Arthur Shaw, ‘lay curled together in their dugout’. Some might argue that they were too close, even when the book was published in 1993 any hint of homosexuality would have been frowned upon. Although perhaps Faulks uses this shock factor to illustrate just how much the war affected the men emotionally and because they went through it together they knew that the other men would understand.
Throughout part two Weir places a lot of emotion into his relationship with Wraysford, it becomes particularly clear when Weir thought Wraysford was dead, he felt that ‘he would not be able to continue’. It appears that Weir thought of Wraysford as his protector, when thinking of writing a letter to Wraysford’s next of kin Weir proclaims that Wraysford was his ‘closest friend, my strength and shield’. Weir, unknown to the reader, is describing Wraysford as if he was his older brother, this more dependent part of their relationship is demonstrated after the battle of the Somme at the end of part two, ‘laid his head against Stephen’s chest…Stephen wrapped his arm around him and held him’. It also seems that Wraysford has taken up this position easily despite the lack of family affection...

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