Discuss The Changes In The Character Bamforth
In the Malayan jungle in 1942 a british patrol is cut off from its
base camp by the advancing Japanese. This hard hitting play explores
what happpens when men have to confront the reality of war: can they
kill another human being? It offers no easy answers but reveals the
complex reactions of a group of ordinary soldiers under pressure.
The character of Bamforth in the play 'The Long, The Short and The
tall, by Willis Hall is a complex one. It seems to undergo a series of
changes as the story continues, especially when the patrol come across
the Japanese prisoner.
At the start of the play, Bamforth obviously dislikes the Japanese.
When the patrol first captures the Japanese prisoner, Bamforth is the
only one (apart from Mitchem and Johnstone) who is willing to kill the
prisoner. Bamforth says
BAMFORTH: "It's only the same as carving up a pig."
He would be ready, standing up Bayonet in hand, feeling for the right
spot to enter the bayonet into the prisoners body.
This quote shows that when he first meets the Japanese prisoner, he
does not view him as a human with feelings. As he knows nothing about
the man, he finds it easy to believe the propaganda he has heard about
the Japanese. He thinks they are evil and would do the same thing to
The other members of the patrol seem quite patient with Bamforth at
the start of the play. Eventually though, they lose their patience
with him. By the end of the play, they view him as little more than a
nuisance. They are constantly telling him to 'shut up' and 'pack it
in'. By the end of the play, he has either had fights or nearly had
fights with everyone in the group.
He is obviously a complex character, with lots of different sides to
his personality. However, most of what we find out about Bamforth,
before he meets the Japanese prisoner, is bad.
As the play progresses, we start to see a change in Bamforth's
character. The Japanese prisoner ignites this apparent change in
When Bamforth first meets the prisoner, he treats him like a circus
animal, and, as previously quoted, compares him to a pig. He likes to
do 'flingers on blonce', and finds it funny the prisoner obeys him. He
BAMFORTH "Flingers on blonce. Dlop Flingers. Get that! He dlops them
like a two-year-old!"
He would be really chuffed that the prisoner is taking orders from
him, and he would be telling the other members of the patrol, he is
quite happy with the authority.
This quotes shows Bamforth bullying the prisoner and telling him to
put his hands on his head. Bamforth enjoys bullying people who can not
stick up for themselves (i.e Whitaker).
Bamforth discovers the prisoner's wallet. This is the exact moment in
which his attitude towards the prisoner begins to change. Bamforth
finds a photo of the prisoner's wife and children. He realizes that
the prisoner is not what he first seemed. Bamforth begins to...