'Garden of evil' : images of the enemy in American war literature 1962-1990

Boulting, DJ 2008, 'Garden of evil' : images of the enemy in American war literature 1962-1990 , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

The following thesis interrogates representations of the enemy in three American war novels: James Jones's The Thin Red Line (1962), Larry Heinemann's Paco's Story (1986), and Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried (1990). While American literary responses to the Vietnam War are the primary concern of this thesis, The Thin Red Line, a 'late' World War II novel, is interrogated as a generic benchmark against which the two Vietnam novels can be compared and contrasted, both in terms of the paradigms of Japanese and Vietnamese enemy images, and with reference to the depiction of internal enemies. The close textual analyses provided in this thesis are broadly historicist and shaped by cultural studies, and the primary texts are discussed with extensive reference to their social, cultural and historical contexts. Four key thematic concerns inform this study of literary enemies and these frequently interpenetrate: first, American myths of national identity the 'self from and in binary opposition to which all American enemies spring; second, the exploitation of gender and sexuality as tropes through which Americans and American enemies are shaped; third, race and racist discourses (including the imagery of miscegenation, racial 'purity' and 'corruption'); and fourth, internecine and intra-subjective enemies and forms of conflict. The 'conventional' enemy in the novels discussed is Japanese or Vietnamese, but conceptions of 'the enemy within' also form a central concern of this thesis, one that reaches its ultimate expression in the novels' engagement with intra-subjective conflict: war at the level of the self. This thesis therefore provides a study of conventional enemies alongside a discussion of an array of enemies and threats to the soldier subject that are not exclusively traceable to the actions of the conventional enemy and that do not always recede with the formal cessation of hostilities. Additionally, it identifies and interrogates sites of conflict and expressions of enmity in the relations of writer, narrator and reader.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Depositing User: Institutional Repository
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2021 14:07
Last Modified: 10 Sep 2021 09:22
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/61573

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