Birdsong Character Analysis

1284 Words6 Pages
The Masculine Role in Birdsong Birdsong, written by Sebastian Faulks, is a novel about World War One in 1914. Beginning in 1910, Faulks tells the story of Stephen, capturing the drama on both a national and personal scale. Throughout the novel, the masculine roles in various characters are asserted in different ways. In the Edwardian era, the masculine ideal of manhood was the typical soldier; Graham Dawson said “the soldier has become a quintessential figure of masculinity”, thought to be strong and courageous. However, the men in the trenches were often passive and inactive as most were suffering from exhaustion and for some, shell shock: a disorder that frequently emasculated the men. The men who suffered from this disorder were seen…show more content…
At first, he is a good strong leader, a figure of authority, but as the novel goes on, and his character begins to disintegrate. After going over the top, Stephen is left laying in the shellhole with a damaged leg; Weir attends to him when darkness falls. As the guns begin to die down the rest of the injured men try to make their way back to the trenches by dragging themselves. The sound, described as “like damp winds scraping down a sky of glass”, troubles Weir and he begins to shake. Eventually, he regresses back to childhood and crawls to Stephen, asking him to “hold me” and to “call me by my name”. After this, Weir becomes dependant on alcohol, with clear symptoms of alcoholism; his shaking hands and the “inability to talk sensibly until the liquor had put some strength and reason inside him”. He is also a superstitious man, searching for constant reassurance from Stephen in the form of tarot card reading, finding hope and comfort from the outcomes. His lack of familiarity with women is one that reduces his masculinity, as it is expected of men to be confident and experienced with women by his age. When Stephen takes him to the prostitutes’ house, the old woman said that Weir started to cry, revealing his fear of intimacy with women, a trait unexpected of the typical

More about Birdsong Character Analysis

Open Document