Commentary on Henry Green's Novel "Black"

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A soldier’s journey, a trip back home from World War II and a collision with reality is described in the opening of Henry Green’s novel, “Back”. The opening deals with the soldier’s journey, his experience at the warfront, the death of his love, and finally a child who is his own son, the last thing he has of his love. Charley, the soldier is seen reminiscing the moments he had with Rose and his experiences at the battlefield while he walks through the graveyard towards the body of his love. The author conveys a lot more than just what the words say in the first few paragraphs, leaving the reader eager to turn the page as well as giving the reader the freedom to interpret what certain words and sentences mean. As the book opens, the reader learns about Charley’s disability. The author mentions about Charley’s peg leg, and then goes on to talk about how he came about to losing his leg. The lost leg can be interpreted in a very symbolic way. The loss of his leg signifies imbalance in his life. The fact that he lost it because of a gun beneath a “Rose” can also be interpreted as: the reason for his instability is his dead love, Rose. The character seems alienated, and Green uses Charley’s misfortunes to draw sympathy from the reader. Also, the author’s intention of mentioning that the bus and the passengers were departing could be to reemphasize Charley’s isolation. The author tends to list out Charley’s struggles and the events from the war to increase the effect left on the reader, emphasizing the grief in Charley’s life. As the passage progresses, the reader learns about the child who Charley ignores initially. However, the spatial description of Charley and the boy come to be very metaphoric. A key scene in the passage is that o... ... middle of paper ... ...ioned “roses after roses”, which would be a metaphor for the dead amidst the beautiful roses, which is quite similar to the incident about the gun and the rose, and how all the hurtful things are beneath the beautiful things. Green uses various literary elements, a few symbolic scenes, constant visual action along with the clever use of “action-reaction” format to let the text flow hence creating potential tension to make sure that the story isn’t dead at any point. The action is mentioned and the protagonist’s immediate reaction keeps the reader involved and complements each other heavily. Green drags the reader right into the text from the very beginning, and very skilfully keeps the reader engaged to the end of the introduction. With varied techniques to convey his message, Green is able to summarize the novel and grab attention in the few opening pages itself.

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