Date of Thesis

5-1-2015

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Bachelor of Arts

First Advisor

Derek Palacio

Second Advisor

Claire Watkins

Abstract

In "Fields of Ares" I explore how modern war has become increasingly dehumanized and mechanical. These changes and others that have gone along with the modernization of war have caused questions regarding identity and humanity in contemporary conflict to arise. In my thesis, the characters fight in different wars that have occurred in the past thirty years. In "We Few, We Happy Few," Vanya, a Soviet conscript fighting in Afghanistan, struggles with conflicting feelings of self-preservation and duty to his comrades. The protagonist in "Valiant," an American soldier fighting in Afghanistan decades after Vanya, must come to terms with the reality of war and how they differ from both his expectations and his guilt at not experiencing what he thinks he should. In "Redacted," (an epistolary story that, for this reason, eschews the formatting guidelines of the thesis) Mike Rentford, an Air Force UAV operator who "flies" over Iraq but lives and works from Nevada grapples with his identity as a combatant that fights from home and can kill without putting himself in any danger. "Redacted" All of the characters' wars are seemingly similar, but their experiences are worlds apart, not only from each other's, but also from those of previous generations of war-fighters. Each story sees the distance between the war-fighter and his enemy, his comrades, and himself increase. The mechanics of war begin to overtake the human element, making each of the protagonists question his identity as a war-fighter in these increasingly mechanized and automated wars. Despite all of these characters actively serving in combat in one way or another, the enemy in these stories does not take the form of another opposing combatant. Instead, the true enemy in all three stories comes from within. These protagonists are all serving in a war, but they are truly fighting themselves, as well as the institutions that surround them as they serve. In this way, I aim to engage with the genre of war-literature that aims to explore war as an internal conflict as much as an external conflict.

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