Kimber’s Reading Questions for March 29th

  1. Daly’s foreword to this story recalls for the reader William Sherman’s labeling of war as hell, and posits that there is a second hell, a less physical hell, and this completes the title in a sense – “Not Only War is Hell.” Daly does not explicitly define this second hell, saying only that it is “a purgatory for the mind, for the spirit, for the soul of men.” Based on what we’ve read thus far, expand on what Daly indicated was a second hell.
  2. The text has used terms like “battle” and “fight” when describing civil rights related events and issues. How do you read this? How does Daly compare our standard idea of war to this second war back home? And as a follow-up that may be more apt to address after we’ve finished the novel – does he assign more gravity to one war than the other?
  3. With my last question I want to borrow one Professor Scanlon asked of us. When we read A Farewell to Arms, we were asked if we thought it was a war story or a love story. I was initially tempted to ask the same question of this novel upon Miriam’s introduction, but I think there is a far more relevant classification to be made here. Is Not Only War a novel about war or a novel about race? With the main storyline seeming to center on two men about to go to war but the actual text littered not only with indirect references to, but direct focus on the “damned race prejudice”, “race question”, and “race problem” from nearly every character we’ve met thus far, it is impossible to not recognize those as the points the novel considers with most sincerity. And as I’ve borrowed a question, I will also borrow a disclaimer: “Note: of course all definitions and categories are by nature exclusionary, and so of course this is a perverse writing prompt. Acknowledged, okay?”

11 thoughts on “Kimber’s Reading Questions for March 29th

  1. 2. The style of this text somewhat reminded me of the movie I watched for my film review, “Sergeant York,” because there is a significant focus on the protagonists as people before they are known as soldiers. It humanizes the soldiers as readers sympathize with them because they have been through so much before they even step onto the physical battlefield. Establishing civil rights issues serves as an example of how much else was going on before the war started. The war interrupted life for everyone because it completely changed their way of life. Unfortunately, race issues persisted as another layer of trauma for those fighting in the war. Utilizing terms like “battle” and “fight” for the second war back home emphasizes the importance of it. Daly’s word choice, and the work as a whole, serves as a reminder that the battle for equality has just as high stakes as the Great War. It is not fair that someone who says “All I want to do is to finish my college work here, get into a medical school in the North or West, settle down to practice”(13) has to fight in either of these battles. Much like soldiers were drafted into the Great War, people are drafted into this second war at home over race by generational issues. This perspective on the war is extremely important to understand because it is another layer, an underappreciated layer, to the war and that time period of history.

  2. 1-The second hell for Daly is racism. The Introduction explains how: “for most black soldiers the actual fighting for freedom, democracy, and self-determination took place in America, not in Europe (xxviii).” Also, that: “If African Americans imagined military service in World War I as a means toward securing social equality, the War Department deliberately and consistently opposed that agenda (xxiii).”

    2-David A. Davis’ introduction was such a great analysis of this text and Davis tell us: “The implication behind the book’s title and Daly’s claim about psychological warfare is that racial violence in the South is as dehumanizing and traumatizing as violence on the battlefields in Europe (xv).” And that: “Many African American writers used the military battlefield as a metaphor for the social battlefield, but what makes Daly’s novel especially important as a work of African American war literature is its authenticity (xix).” While I have not finished the novel, I am going to say that Daly sees racial inequality as a bigger injustice and assigns more gravity to that issue.

    3-I may be taking the easy way out on this answer but I think this text is about the systemic racism that pervades all aspects of Montie’s life, even on the battlefields of Europe.

  3. 3. Maybe Not Only War is a novel about race AND war. I feel like it’s pretty easy to classify AFTA as a love story rather than a war story, although the war plays a relatively important role in the story. In Not Only War, as the title implies, there is another, more personal conflict for African Americans – racial inequality and discrimination. It could be that Daly yokes together WWI and race for…we haven’t really finished the book yet, so I’m not quite sure.

  4. 3) I think it is interesting to take a similar position on this novel as was proposed for A Farewell to Arms. However, I think that argument could be made about any novel with more than one primary comment. I stand with how I did for A Farewell to Arms in saying that their love story could not exist without the war that this war novel could not exist without the problematic involvement of race. In this novel the main conflict of the war is presented, but there is a secondary, equally important conflict regarding race that shapes the primary narrative of this story.

  5. Well… to answer your first question, what we talked about in class was that if we see it from a Biblical perspective is that purgatory is a place where a person goes but it is not permanent as Hell. Hell is where you go after death permanently. When the soul goes to Hell, it will remain in Hell that is what the Bible text states. To answer you second question, my interpretation of the question is that a battle consist of a multitude of people such as a war while fighting is just between two people.

  6. 2. I really like the last part of your question. I think Daly emphasizes the war of racism more than actual war because it is present on the homefront and on the warfront. It is an aspect of war that we did not look at much in class, but was present without us even knowing. Not only were African Americans racially abused, but so were certain Chinese people where England had some control. The gravity of racism is war is something that would be really interesting to look at because I am sure it happened much more than we are aware off. This is the one book we have read where racism is assigned more gravity as an issue than war itself.

  7. 1. I think the idea of a second hell extends further than just racism. I think there is a nuance hidden within his writing. It is the hell of ourselves, trapping our own minds and stifling our abilities. The most damaging effects of racism, and any form of bigotry such as sexism or ableism, is battering people with this image of oneself as someone not capable enough or worthy enough. These behaviors rely on the victim stopping themselves with self-doubt and a lack of self-worth. The second hell is the own prison of our own mind that is fed by the bigotry outside it.

  8. 1) The second hell is most easily defined as the consequences of racism. Throughout the entirety of this novel (and the actual time period which it represents) Montie and other members of society that were not white faced discrimination and laws from a system designed to see them fail. This hell consumed every part of their lives, so much so that they cannot do anything without being consciously aware of their race.

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