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The story, a historical fiction by genre, is set in France with the young men resting in the village of Louvencourt and preparing to set…
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Assianment
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No Man’s Land Kevin Major takes the readers of No Man’s Land back to World War I and into the lives of young men enlisted in the Newfoundland Regiment. The story, a historical fiction by genre, is set in France with the young men resting in the village of Louvencourt and preparing to set out for the trenches in what will come to be known as the Battle of Somme.
In our study of history, we are often informed only of significant places, dates, generals and battles. We are often left devoid of the emotional trauma and psychological transformations that the war causes on people’s lives. No Man’s Land focuses our sights on the human side of the war as the men of Newfoundland Regiment reminisce the time when they saw the war as an adventure and an opportunity to seek glory for themselves and their country. They were told that the war would last only for a year and they would be coming home just in time for Christmas. They were proud volunteers then as many other soldiers were. The memories of their march past cheering crowds through the streets of St. Johns and into the transport Florizel was all fresh to them. War for them was an adventure. That view changed ever since the news of McWhirter’s death, the first Newfoundland man killed, was made known.
Now, Second Lieutenant Alan Hayward, Martin and the rest of the men find themselves anxiously waiting for the moment when they would step out of the trenches and assault the enemy. They cower under the protection of their makeshift bunkers as the enemy artillery barrage pummels their position. All of them knew that at any time they could end up dead or dying. The men longed for home and were frustrated by the lack of knowledge of what lies ahead of them but in spite of these, they stand resolutely on the fire steps glancing at their pocket watches and waiting for the zero hour. In reading the book, we become enticed with how Kevin Major effectively portrayed the unnatural quiet before the storm.
Major was also equally effective in portraying the camaraderie as the men on Newfoundland Regiment fight to make it through the barbed wire, deadly sweep of machine-gun bullets and grenades. In spite of their heroic efforts, the area known to be as no man’s land proved to be the graveyard for two hundred and seventy-two young men from the Newfoundland Regiment. It was the greatest casualty for any other unit in the battlefield. On that morning of July 1, 1916, the communities in Newfoundland lost many of its men who would have been their future leaders. The attempt to drive the enemy out of Beaumont Hamel was the single greatest disaster in the island’s history.
No man’s land is a term used for the strip of land located between two enemy trenches where neither side would wish to openly move or take control because of the serious damage that would be inflicted by the enemy during the process. As such, Major chose a very effective setting to develop the story of the struggle that people go through during a war. The author’s simplistic but skillful construction of events and narrative detail also created a gripping foreboding before the start of the push. The inexorable and heart-breaking conclusion also helped in developing among the readers a sense of how World War I and all other wars were costing not only the lives of the soldiers but also their loved ones as well. Those who would dismiss World War I as a mere criminal foolishness brought about by the pride of leaders would be reminded of the great hearts that fought it and all other sacrifices that came along with it.
No Man’s Land fulfills its historical fiction category as it is able to provide a study of history and involved the student as it invokes emotional and cognitive understanding of the interaction of character drama, and facts of the past.
References:
Rambles Online (und.) No Man’s Land. Retrieved November 11, 2009 from http://www.rambles.net/major_noman95.html Read More
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