-brilliant, varied, controversial, public, prolific and misunderstood; has not published 39 books (including 11 novels), he has written plays (and staged them), screenplays (directed and acted in them), poems, and attempted every sort of narrative form, including some he invented; columns, essays and political reportage. He run for the office of president and won most of the major literary awards, but for the Nobel. His disagreements with feminists were legendary. He went to Harvard. He served as a rifleman in the South Pacific and wrote the huge best-seller, THE NAKED AND THE DEAD (1948) based on his experiences. Other novels: BARBARY SHORE/ a novel of the Cold War/, THE DEER PARK. THE ARMIES OF THE NIGHT (1968) a non-fiction narrative of the anti-Vietnam War March on the Pentagon, won the Pulitzer Prize. OF A FIRE ON THE MOON is a careful study of the Apollo 11 moon shot. Set in the Egypt of three thousand years ago is his another novel ANCIENT EVENINGS. He won a second Pulitzer for best-seller, THE EXECUTIONER’S SONG- “true life novel” which chronicled the life and death of Utah murderer Gary Gilmore. HARLOT’S GHOST is the first part of a CIA novel. A massive retrospective of his entire career was named THE TIME OF OUR TIME.
The Naked and the Dead
- a realistic or naturalistic novel about WW2.
Plot and structure:
Parts of the novel are: Wave, Argil and Mold, Plant and Phantom, Wake= Vlna, Hlina a tvar, Rastlina a prízrak, Brázda and these are interrupted by retrospective parts.
Wave: Mailer introduces the novel's major characters in the opening scene. The platoon is part of a 6,000-man force poised to take the Japanese-held island, Anopopei, in order to clear the way for a larger American advance into the Philippines. The story provides background information on several of the men. As they wait for their rush onto the beach, many of them address and try to overcome their fear of death.
Argil and Mold: The American soldiers advance quickly during the first few days. Soon they realize just how oppressive-týrajúci the heat and moisture of the jungle is. Lieutenant Robert Hearn feels dissatisfied with his position as aide-pobočník to General Cummings and "contemptuous"-pohŕdavý of the other officers. He enjoys his almost nightly talks with the general, even though he acknowledges that he is a "tyrant."
The troops wait for orders to advance. When they get orders to carry guns inland, they are soon exhausted by the arduous-namáhavý trip through the jungle. As enemy fire stops them at a river, a Japanese bullet shatters Private Toglio's elbow. Later, Croft, Red, and Gallagher come across some wounded Japanese soldiers and Croft orders them killed. Red experiences a mixture of disgust and excitement as he shoots one. Croft taunts- vysmievať sa another — allowing him to think he will be spared — and then kills him.
One night, the men get drunk and decide to hunt for Japanese souvenirs. After they come across several dead Japanese, the stench and sight of the maggot-infested=zamorené larvami bodies overcome them. They are suddenly aware of their own fragility. When they return to the main camp, Gallagher is told his wife died during childbirth; he is shocked. Minetta is sent to the Division Clearing Hospital for a minor wound. Fearful of further combat, he attempts to feign-predstierať insanity so he can stay in the hospital longer. Eventually, he becomes afraid of the other patients and returns to the platoon.
During one of their talks, the general confides to Hearn about his troubled relationship with his wife. Revolted by his display of self-pity, Hearn responds coldly, which humiliates-ponížiť the general. In retribution-trest, the general reassigns him to a tedious-nudný post. After Hearn leaves a cigarette butt on the floor of the general's quarters, the general forces Hearn to pick it up= humiliation. To avoid Hearn, the general assigns him to lead the platoon on a scouting mission behind the enemy troops.
Plant and Phantom: Croft resents-pohoršovať sa Hearn's presence; he determines that the Lieutenant is a threat to his leadership over the platoon. During a skirmish-potýčka with the Japanese, Wilson gets hit in the stomach and Hearn sends Ridges, Goldstein, Stanley, and Brown to take him back to the beach. Later, Roth finds an injured bird, which Croft grabs and crushes with his hand. After Hearn forces Croft to apologize to Roth, Croft determines to make him pay for his humiliation.
Croft convinces Hearn to send Martinez out to discover where the enemy troops are located. Japanese soldiers are occupying the pass ahead of them. However, Martinez found no evidence of Japanese troops in the pass. Hearn, without the proper precautions, leads the platoon right into the enemy and is killed. Croft happily resumes control of the men and orders them to climb Mount Anaka. This weakens him as well as his men. Exhausted Roth falls to his death and Red refuses to go any further. Croft nearly shoots Red if he doesn't continue up the mountain. Realizing at that moment what Croft did to Hearn, Red ashamedly backs down. Croft stumbles into a hornet's nest-sršne, roj. Men back down the mountain, Croft finally admits defeat, leads his men back to the beach.
While this, Ridges, Goldstein, Stanley, and Brown struggle with the task of carrying an injured Wilson through the jungle. Stanley breaks down from exhaustion and, seizing a chance to rest, Brown agrees to stay with him. Goldstein and Ridges continue alone with the back-breaking task. After several agonizing hours, Wilson eventually dies.
Back at the main camp, the general's departure for Army Headquarters forces Dalleson to take command of the invasion. The decisions Dalleson makes, along with a good measure of luck, result in the destruction of the Japanese. The next day during the boat ride back to camp, the men feel no hope. When they see the mountain, they feel pride.
Wake: When General Cummings returns, he discovers that the Japanese were almost out of food and ammunition. He admits that he had little to do with the American victory and that the reconnaissance-prieskum mission had been useless. The novel ends with Dalleson musing-rozjímanie on the pride he would feel when future map-reading classes used his new teaching materials.
The novel focuses on Lieutenant Robert Hearn. General is the official authority, Hearn stands against him- he is sent to a dangerous mission. Soldiers represent collective character in the novel. Characters come from both the high and the low end of the army’s social ladder. Cummings and Croft are governed by their lust for power and violence. The soldiers have no control; even worse, they are at the mercy of cruel and manipulative leaders. Even the officers, however, eventually learn that they do not have absolute control. After luck plays a large part in the takeover of the island, Cummings must admit that his careful strategic planning did little to help win the campaign. As a result, he will probably not get the promotion he coveted. A swarm of hornets thwarts Croft's monomaniacal drive to climb Mount Anaka, and he eventually must also admit defeat.
Sergeant William Brown: a young soldier who doubts his abilities. He is obsessed with the thought of his wife cheating on him.
Staff Sergeant Sam Croft: autobiographical character; leads the Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon of Headquarters Company of the 460th Infantry Regiment and is considered by the men to be "the best platoon sergeant in the Army and the meanest." “He hated weakness and he loved practically nothing." Croft kills for pleasure: on Anopopei he shoots a Japanese prisoner after allowing him to think he was safe, crushes a bird that one of his men had found, and coldly plans Hearn's death in an effort to regain control of the platoon. Croft loves the war and power.
General Cummings: the commander of the invading American forces on Anopopei. In order to obtain victory, he attempts to break his men's spirits. Beneath his austere surface, however, lies self-pity and paranoia. With his silk monogrammed handkerchiefs, represents the emerging military-industrial complex.
Casimir Czienwicz: =Polack, a cynical, shrewd-bystrý member of Croft's platoon. His rough life growing up on the streets of Chicago prepared him for the life in the army.
Major Dalleson: After Hearn's death, Dalleson takes over the American invasion of Anopopei. A few good decisions — coupled with a lot of luck — enables him to take credit for the defeat of the Japanese army.
Roy Gallagher: A member of Croft's platoon, Gallagher is a hotheaded, racist, working-class guy from South Boston. An Irish Catholic .He continually feels sorry for himself. His prediction is realized when he gets news that his wife Mary died in childbirth.
Joe Goldstein: member of Croft's platoon; occasionally the target-cieľ of anti-Semitic slurs-výčitky; religious faith; dogged courage; essentially trusting nature. He is one of the men that carries the wounded Wilson through the jungle.
Lieutenant Robert Hearn: Hearn is General Cummings' young Harvard-educated aide-pobočník. His wealthy background and slightly aristocratic air are at odds with his tyrannical supervisors as well as the enlisted men. Therefore, he does little to make friends on the island. He initially enjoys the general's company, but is eventually alienated by his mind games and self-pity.
Hearns' reserve is shattered when the general humiliates him by forcing him to pick up a cigarette he has tossed on the floor. The incident leaves him burning with shame and self-disgust suffering. Hearn enjoys during the mission the sense of power his position affords him. Yet he tries to treat his men fairly and humanely before he is killed.
Hennessey: A young soldier in Croft's platoon, Hennessey is killed on their first day on the island. His death fills the other men with a sense of doom-osud, záhuba
Sergeant Julio Martinez= Japbait; gets Rosalita pregnant and enlists; an excellent scout for Croft's platoon. He sometimes becomes nervous about giving orders to the other men, afraid that they would not listen to a Mexican American. He is proud that he was the man upon whom the safety of the others depended.
Steve Minetta: another member of Croft's platoon. He is sent to the Division Clearing Hospital for a minor wound, feigns insanity so he can stay there longer. Eventually, though, he becomes restless and goes back to the platoon.
Oscar Ridges: A member of Croft's platoon, a dull-witted and good-tempered religious Mississippi farmer.
Roth: a member of Croft's platoon; a well-educated Jewish man, he considers himself superior to the other men in the platoon, which effectively isolates him. Yet he experiences feelings of self-pity when he acknowledges his inability to be as good as the others. His weakness cause him to fall to his death on Mount Anaka.
Stanley: after promotion to corporal, he develops authority and bullies the men. He breaks down during the trek back to the beach with Wilson and has to be left behind.
Private Toglio: a member of Croft's platoon. A Japanese bullet shatters his elbow shortly after they arrive. The other men envy the good fortune of his "million-dollar" injury.
Private Red Valsen: grew up in a company-run mining town in Montana, lost his father in a mining accident. He decides while working at a flophouse to join up rather than get married. While determined to be a loner in an effort to shield himself from the suffering of others, he periodically feels "sad compassion" for the men.
Woodrow Wilson: A member of Croft's platoon, a wild, fun-loving man from Georgia who is suffering from venereal-pohlavná disease. He gets shot in the stomach and eventually dies after an arduous-pracný trek through the jungle.
Buddy Wyman: A 28old soldier in Croft's platoon, Wyman has a dream to become a hero that would ease his life and remove the problems of supporting his mother and himself. The war, however, does not live up to his romantic visions.
end of World War II+ memories of the soldiers from pre-war period, on the fictional island of Anopopei in the South Pacific
Point of view:
Mailer employs an omniscient narrator to get at the vast sweep of history in The Naked and the Dead. This narrator speaks for social reality and provides basic information and insight about characters who could not articulate their social significance in the novelist's imaginative terms. At the same time, Mailer allows the characters to speak for themselves — not only through dialogue but through the "Time Machine" sections, which are extended flashbacks into the backgrounds of the soldiers.
Mailer structured The Naked and the Dead to include not only the story of the armed conflict on the mythical Japanese-held island of Anopopei during World War II, but also the stories of each of the main characters involved in the struggle. He often breaks his main narrative with "Time Machine" vignettes of the past history of these men to provide readers with important information about their characters.
-significantly more dialog than descript.
-Violent language of the soldiers
Weltanschauung: The episodic structure of the novel functions to sustain its "world view" — in this case, a naturalistic impression Naturalism- works reflect a pessimistic view of the nature of experience. The naturalistic view proposes that humans cannot exercise free will.
War and Peace: The Naked and the Dead focuses on both war and peace as its narrative moves back and forth between the battle on Anopopei and the lives of many of the men prior to the war. The reader is able to discern how the war has changed the lives of these men and the ones that they have left behind in the United States.
Nakedness: Mailer, in his distinctive realist style, undresses the characters and reveals the material conditions behind their motivations and fears. Mailer shows how the soldiers elected to join the Army: not out of patriotism, but because of the lack of opportunities at home. As Gallagher, an Irish Catholic from South Boston, bragged to one woman, "I'm tired of my job, I'm getting' a better one...Something big...I'm on my way, I'm going places."Others have joined the military to escape- Red, Martinez.
Victim and Victimization: General Cummings and Sergeant Croft are victimizers; they are so insecure and power-hungry that they will risk the lives of their men to insure their absolute power. This results in the victimization of their men and ultimately causes the death of some.
Courage and Cowardice: Valsen and Hearn exhibit courage when they struggle to preserve their personal dignity and the lives of the men around them — even when faced with personal vendettas and impossible circumstances. Valsen does not back down from his challenge to Croft on Mount Anaka until the Sergeant threatens to shoot him. Hearn accepts the challenge of leading the men into dangerous territory. The other soldiers in the platoon must also struggle with feelings of courage and cowardice. Some, like Goldstein and Ridges, successfully combat their overwhelming fatigue and sense of insecurity as they continue the arduous task of returning the wounded Wilson to the beach. Others find any way they can to avoid the terrors of war and preserve their sanity in such a chaotic situation.
Inability to control the destiny: The jungle's heat, humidity, and rugged terrain exhaust them and impede their progress. At home, poverty, class, race, as well as other factors such as alcoholism and violent tendencies, determine the men's choices and future.
Symbolism, allusions, myth:
The jungle and Mount Anaka: The oppressive heat and primitive nature of the jungle reflects the animalistic, primal-prapôvodný nature exhibited by some of the men, especially Croft. His cruel desire for power causes him to coldly shoot an unarmed Japanese soldier, kill a small bird with his bare hand, and plan Hearn's death for his own ends. Mount Anaka proves a formidable obstacle-strašná prekážka to the exhausted and traumatized men, and so symbolizes a barrier to human progress.
Soldiers are naked because the enemy still sees them. There’s no place where they could hide. They are dead as they can die anytime. They die just like their ideals and hopes.
Army: as the epitome of the machine in a society that is universally mechanistic
Genre: psychological anti-war novel with features of retrospective.
My own interpretation:
Novel was based on Norman Mailer’s exaggerated experiences as a rifleman on Luzon while he was in his 20s- WW2
-He puts his characters into situations from which there’s no escape, they feel desperate but don’t forget they’re human beings. There is also a picture of the ordinary life of the soldier- how they drink from their cups, how their feet start hurting in the boots when they are marching uphill and so forth. It enables Mailer to quite impressively convey the notion that the soldier’s life is mostly very hard even when nobody’s shooting at you.
-The novel is split between alternating chapters depicting ongoing action on the island and retrospective chapters focusing on a particular character's personality and past. The Naked and the Dead contains several combat scenes and a great deal of description of Army protocol, as well as detailed descriptions of the many trials and agonies of the enlisted man. The novel deals with the difficulties of the campaign, the danger posed by the Japanese, the conflict between officers and regulars, each man's own internal conflicts and fears, and the aggression between squad members. The men suffer physical hardship and even casualties, but there is little mourning or kindness. There is no mercy shown to the Japanese.
Important quotations explained:
After spending time on Anopopei and in the Pacific theater, many of the soldiers begin to question the true motive behind capturing a desolate island from the Japanese.
Red expresses the feeling that many of the soldiers have come to hold about the war: "What have I got against the goddamn Japs? You think I care if they keep this fuggin' jungle? What's it to me if Cummings gets another star?"
MAILER POINTS out the stark differences between the working-class troops and their officers. As in all wars, "workers in uniform" must labor for generals who are out for promotion and popularity, rather than protecting the welfare of their men. "They slept with mud and insects and worms, while the officers bitched-sťažovať si because there were no paper napkins, and the chow-jedáleň could stand improvement."
To make an Army work you have to have every man in it fitted into a fear ladder... The Army functions best when you're frightened of the man above you, and contemptuous of your subordinates- opinion of Gen. Edward Cummings, in Pt. 1, Ch. 6
Cummings divides the meat rations to the unit so that half go to the 180 enlisted men--and the other half to the 38 officers. "Break them down. Every time an enlisted man sees an officer get an extra privilege, it breaks him down a little more...they also fear us more...”=separation of officers and common soldiers.