The Concept of Reputation over Family Value

When I started reading the last section of Not So Quiet ... I found Helen’s experience on leave very interesting. Prior to actually being home, she made it very clear that she would not return to war, “I have finished with the war for good” (167). After losing multiple people that were close to her and all the things that occurred while working, it is not shocking that she would want to never return. Helen’s family’s response to her not wanting to return to war is outrageous. We have talked about mother in our previous classes, but the way she immediately wants to show Helen off at a meeting is sad. She immediately questions, “What will Mrs. Evans-Mawnington say?” (182). Mother is not concern whether Helen is physically or mentally okay, she is more concern on what her rival will think. I believe Mother is so caught up in trying to keep this persona up that the actual danger her children are in does not matter.

Aunt Helen is so dramatic in my opinion. She really was going to rewrite her will if Helen did not enlist again, which is so sad. I am sure Aunt Helen, as well as mother, knows about the hardships that come with being in the war but obviously for them what is going on at the front lines is not as important as their reputations at the home front. Besides all that her family is saying and threatening to do, Helen still sticks her ground and refuses to go back to war. However, this changes when Trix is in need of help. When Helen helped Trix, that showed true family value. Helen was willing to do the one thing she did not want to do so then her sister could get help. When Helen returns to war, it shows that she has more value in her relationship with her sister then her reputation. Although this makes her aunt and mother happy, she did not do it for them. She did it for Trix, the one person who seems like true family to Helen.

Bella’s Reading Questions for February 1

  1. In Chapter 4 of Not So Quiet, the narrator, Smithy, invokes her mother and her mother’s rival in her thoughts in a fit of distress, mirroring Paul invoking his mother’s name in despair at the end of Chapter 7 of All Quiet on the Western Front. How does the tone difference in these two scenes affect the readers’ perception of the war and set the characters apart from classic hero/heroine archetypes?
  2. In Chapter 5, the group of friends hold a going away party for the B.F., which ends in Skinny attacking Tosh for an unrevealed insult (later it is implied that Tosh accused Skinny of being a lesbian). Skinny gets discharged for refusing to say what the insult was when commanded by Mrs. Bitch. How does a modern perspective change the tone of this exchange compared to how it would have been read when originally published?
  3. In Chapters 6 and 7, laughter is presented as an extreme expression of emotion from Tosh’s laughter at Chump’s antics, the sexual comments made by the German captives, and the humorous monologue, to Smithy’s laughter throughout her traumatic experience driving through the bombing and Tosh dying in her arms. How does the incessant laughter throughout Chapter 7 influence the speed of the action?