This is perfectly demonstrated In the short story ‘War”, by Lugging Primordial. In “War”, the character called the fat traveler or old man gives testament to the effects of denial. Upon analysis, it is revealed that he is a dynamic character; through Primordial’s usage of characterization and his eventual transformation. Primordial’s characterization of the fat traveler follows a linear process: a marked emergence, explanation of his beliefs, the other characters’ reaction to him, and his transformation. The manner which he is Introduced sets the mood and tone for him, s he enters though loudly Interrupting a conversation with “Nonsense”.
He Is described as “a fat, red-faced man with bloodshot eyes of the palest gray. He was panting… Trying to cover his mouth with his hand so as to hide the two missing front teeth”. At this point, he carries a negative tone, with the mood thick in disrespect. Every detail about him carries a negative connotation, from being fat to toothless. This is not by accident, as he is displayed as a decrepit individual no person wants to become. This primes the reader to be skeptical of him, and what he stands for (War 08)_ This is directly followed by an explanation of his beliefs.
It would seem that the fat traveler is zealous in his beliefs, as it is written that “From his bulging eyes seemed to spurt inner violence of an uncontrolled vitality which his weakened body could hardly contain”. This illustrates him as speaking with fervor, with him placing so much energy Into what he says that his body can hardly take it. This Image complements the manner which he responds to the other travelers statement of “Our children do not belong to us, they belong to the country’; through using a monologue: Bosh, Do we think of the country when we give life to our children?
We belong to them but they never belong to us. And when they reach twenty they are exactly what we were at their age. We too had a father and mother, but there were so many other things as well and the Country, of course, whose call we would have answered-?when we were twenty-? even If father and mother had said no. Now, at our age, the love of our Country is still great, of course, but stronger than it is the love of our children. Isn’t it natural that at their age they should consider the love for heir Country (l am speaking of decent boys, of course) even greater than the love for us?
Isn’t it natural that it should be so, as after all they must look upon us as upon old boys who cannot move any more and must sit at home? If Country is a natural necessity Like bread of which each of us must eat In order not to patriotism, that everyone has an innate, natural love for their country; and that the only thing the parents love more than country are their sons. This is reinforced by the tiny husband’s explanation of his wife’s behavior: that she is overtaken with grief cause their son, “a boy of twenty [years] to whom both [the husband and wife] had devoted their entire life”, is to be sent to the front-lines (Primordial 108).
The fat man continues, stating that they, as parents of soldiers, should not be afraid for their boys because their sons are proud to fight and die for the country they love: “And our sons go, when they are twenty, and they don’t want tears, because if they die, they die inflamed and happy (l am speaking, of course, of decent boys). Now, if one dies young and happy, without having the sides of life what more can we ask for him? Everyone should stop ugly crying; because my everyone should laugh, as I do… r at least thank God-?as I do son, before dying, sent me a message saying that he was dying having ended his life in the best way he could have satisfied at wished. That is why, as you see, I do not even wear mourning… ” (109) The fat man’s beliefs allude to the romantic ideal of war, an ideal that became savagely antiquated during World War l. In the war, millions of young men lost their lives in the name of nationalism, and the citizenry were left disillusioned to the mystic of war. The fat man perfectly personifies his, as he is an ugly, misshapen individual speaking of pride and grandeur.
Also, up at this point he is only referred to as either the fat man or the fat traveler. The word “fat” connotes to him be “full of it”, or not telling the truth (full of it). This connotation is revealed through his body language after his monologue, as “his livid lip over his missing teeth was trembling, his eyes were watery and motionless, and soon after he ended with a shrill laugh which might well have been a sob” (109). It is used to relate to two things, that there is no glory in war and that he is lying about not wearing running about his son.
In response to the fat man’s speech, the other travelers state “Quite so… Quite so… ” And nod in agreement. The fat man’s words had a special effect on the portly woman. At this point in the story, the he is presented as the foil to her. She is introduced as being in “deep mourning” and keeping to herself; while the fat traveler is proud and abrupt. Upon hearing his speech, “She [realizes] that it [isn’t] the others who [are] wrong but herself who could not rise up to the same height of those fathers and mothers willing to resign themselves, without crying, not only to the aperture of their sons but even to their death”.
Her transformation of thought is short-lived, as she snaps out of it, “Just as if she had heard nothing of what had been said and almost as if waking up from a dream” and asks the old man, “Then… Is your son really dead? ” The old man turned to look at her, fixing his great, bulging, horribly watery light gray eyes, deep in her face. For some time he tried to answer, but words failed him. He looked and looked at her, almost as if only then at that silly, incongruous question-?he had suddenly realized at last that son was really dead-?gone forever-?forever.
His face contracted, horribly distorted, then he snatched in haste a handkerchief from pocket and, to the amazement of everyone, broke into harrowing, heart- became time the fat traveler is called “old”. “Old” connotes to him being delicate and fragile. When directly confronted with the question of losing his son, he was forced to accept the grim truth that his son was gone; and this reality breaks him (109). In the context of the story, Primordial uses the old man to showcase the effects of denial.
Right from the get-go he is described as ugly and malformed, with a desire to splay his beliefs aggressively. It appears he is trying to convince the other travelers to “stop crying” and be happy, but he is really trying to convince himself. Even though he says that he does not “even wear mourning”, his body begins to tremble at the mention of it. He can’t even address his son’s death directly, as he only mentions that his son sent him a message before dying. When the portly woman asks him if his son is really dead, he is forced to face the reality that “his son was really dead-?gone forever-?forever”.
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