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"Not So Quiet" As Representative Of Gender In Wwii The Novel "Not So Quiet" As Representative Of Gendered Experience During Wwii

1702 words - 7 pages

Evadne Price wrote the book "Not So Quiet" in 1930 under the pseudonym Helen Zenna Smith. Price was an established author and playwright by the time she wrote "Not So Quiet," best known for her serialized romance novels. She also wrote children's books and articles for women's magazine. But "Not So Quiet" was a very different kind of piece, partly because of its far more serious nature, partly because it was somewhat autobiographical. She was initially approached by a British publisher to write a satire on "All Quiet on the Western Front" by Erich Maria Remarque, but Price argued that she would rather write an account of a woman's experience with war instead. Price then contacted a British ambulance driver who had kept war diaries as a basis for her story, then elaborating the story to revolve around a fictional version of herself named Smithie. Taking this very personal, intimate story of a woman, as well as her already inherent skill of writing for women, Price created a novel whose voice is distinctly female. The reader feels Smithie's confusion, anger and isolation in her struggle to build a new identity in the wake of a total loss of innocence. In this, more then anything, Price has created a war story that is not only about women, but one that speaks to women and resonates with them, a true rarity. It is through Price's novel that a distinct view of the war through the eyes of a very female, upper-class experience help give the reader a very clear idea of many of the issues faced by women of the war years as they try to maintain what society has always told them is feminine behavior in an increasingly bloody reality.The nature of the book "Not So Quiet" is reflective of "All Quiet on the Western Front" in that both are pacifist responses to war, but in the case of "Not So Quiet," the pacifist voice is female. The ideas about war expressed by Smithie are often reminiscent of other pacifist women's responses to war and draw attention to the women's peace movement that started during the First World War. Many of Smithie's comments, such as her sarcastic annoyance with Mrs. Evans-Mawning for being proud that she could be proud her son was murdered for murdering another mother's son, is phrased very similarly to thoughts of leading female pacifists. Clara Zetkin, a German socialist feminist, is one who comes to mind and her words "Who endangers the well-being of the fatherland? Is it the men who, clad in other uniforms, stand beyond the frontier, men who did not want this war any more than your men did and who do not know why they should have to murder their brothers?" (Zetkin, pg. 145). Zetkin's radical ideas, formed during the first war, are a display of the already changing disposition, pushing to action for the cause of peace. Lida Gustava Heymann, another female pacifist during World War I, reflects another aspect of Smithie's pacifist transformation-anger. Like Smithie, who spends much of the novel searching for people to blame for her...

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