Sonia Joshi’s Reading Questions for February 8th

I know we had an extended deadline, but I couldn’t sleep, so here’s some extra time to answer the questions!

  1. The primary struggle of “Miss Ogilvy Finds Herself” revolves around the titular character’s struggle with their gender identity. Although this issue comes with different struggles, we have also discussed a sense of detachment from the physical self with soldiers returning from the home front. What other ways do you see Ogilvy’s struggles paralleling those of a soldier? Is there even a basis of comparison, or are these two issues too different to discuss them together? If that’s your stance, what about war could Ogilvy’s struggle possibly parallel, if there’s anything at all?
  2. The entirety of “The New Word” is written like a play, with descriptions mirroring stage directions and a section of dialogue formatted the same way it would be in a script. We have also previously discussed how children entering the war effort were often coerced into it, and at times they simply played their part as they “did their bit”. How does the formatting of the story reflect this idea? Or, do you think the formatting of the story represents something else. If so, what?
  3. Reportedly, people believed “The Bowmen” to actually be a non fiction account of a supernatural occurrence out in the trenches. There was even a (false) claim published in a 2001 article in The Sunday Times that claimed a diary of a soldier had been found that proved the existence of the Angels of Mons. Machen himself admitted that the story was based on several reports of rumors that came in from various battlefields. What do you think the real story is? Were the bowmen ever real, or merely fantastical stories and rumors? If you think they did exist, who might they have been?
  4. Did you prefer these short stories or the longer format of the novels we’ve read? What ways could a short story format allow for an impactful story about war versus a novel? 

13 thoughts on “Sonia Joshi’s Reading Questions for February 8th

  1. 4. I tend to prefer the novel format because I enjoy the amount of time the author gives the audience to grow attached to and understand the protagonist. I especially connected to Nellie as she grew into her own person throughout the novel, which I would not have been able to witness in a short story. However, the short story format does offer some advantages, particularly for stories handling important social themes, as war stories often do. While the character attachment is one of my favorite parts of reading a novel, it can at times take away from overall war themes. For instance, if someone reads All Quiet on the Western Front they could become so invested in Paul as a person and understand him as an individual they may not recognize how his country treats him as expendable and part of a machine. The ending is then just full of emotions over Paul’s death rather than focusing on the broader picture of how senseless the war is or wondering if Paul’s death is actually the best possible closure for his story. Because a novel is longer than a short story, audiences also tend to view the subjects of novels as unique enough to deserve a lengthy explanation; in contrast, the short stories are glimpses into a person’s struggles and lend themselves more to understanding someone like Olgivy is not alone and rather than being this one isolated incident which was such a horrific story which needs a novel this protagonist is one of many victims of war and societal oppression. Sometimes leaving audiences with more questions about how many others experienced this or what else there is that the author did not have time to share.

  2. 4. I like the short story format. It’s a great way to get to know many different characters’ perspectives. The short story format is impactful in terms of war stories, because it demonstrates the variability in post-traumatic reactions. Not everyone acts the same, which I think is an important message for readers.

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