How War Is Presented Between Empire of Youth and Testament of the Sun

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“Compare how Vera Brittain and JG Ballad present the theme of ‘WAR’ in Testament of youth and Empire of the Sun”

Both the novel and the memoir are set during a war that disrupts the main characters life in a way that allows the reader to experience the raw brutality of war, whether that is physical or emotional. Testament of Youth (ToY) is set in WWI and Empire of the Sun (EotS) in WWII, the 27 year gap between the wars meant there were technological differences such as communication, aircraft and weapon advances. These factors highlight that the later war would have been more sophisticated in both ground and air defence/fighting techniques. This could possibly be why both characters envision the war differently, although there are other factors such as gender, geographical location and political positioning to consider. Ballad writes in a 3rd person emotionally detached manner whereas Brittain’s first person perspective allows us to empathise with her situation. The extracts I will be using to explore the way in which war affects the thoughts and feelings of each protagonist are page 30-33 from EotS where on the eve of pearl harbour Jim investigates Hungjao aerodrome and comes across an old fighter plane. This is when we see his fascination with warfare technology. I will compare it to pages 67-72, chapter 8, in ToY when Vera sees her future fiancé, Roland, receive his awards on speech day at her brothers school and both Roland and her brother are appropriately attired in their OTS uniform.

At the beginning of both extracts, sooth and calming nature is key and is juxtaposed to the violent acts of war that are soon to follow . The grass Jim walks on is described by the noun ‘blades’ that ‘seethed’. Both connote violence, anger and conflict that could symbolise Jim’s feeling and emotions. The fact that the nature at Hungao aerodrome is described in a violent…...

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