The View of Women in the First World War in Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant's Shadow Shapes

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The View of Women in the First World War in Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant's Shadow Shapes Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant's Shadow Shapes is a remarkable piece of literature that truly captures this young woman's accounts of war. Her stories clearly show her views of the war and how she felt, being a part of it. From it we learn what the First World War was like for a nurse injured over seas. Being told first hand, and from her own accounts, Sergeant clearly shows the position of the women during World War I. Gender plays a major role in this excerpt from Sergeant's Shadow Shapes. The author refers to gender many times throughout the piece. This easier seen when looking at the piece in regards to gendered societal positions, as discussed in Higonnet and Higonnet's The Double Helix. Sergeant's own view of her position in the war gives a clear example of how a woman's role in society is still that of less than a man, even though she is injured in war. Through Sergeant's accounts society's views if gender are also shown when she is being transferred to another hospital. Gender is used throughout the piece. It appears that the story is told mostly through a male point of view, which is interesting especially since this is an autobiographical account of a woman's experience. However Sergeant herself looks at the war as a "male" event, even though she herself is participating. We see this first when she states "Every American in Europe today , however bad his fate, feels in his heart of hearts glad to be here."(p. 77) Clearly she does not see herself as an active participate, because she does not include her own sex when she discusses feelings of war and being overseas. It i... ... middle of paper ... ...stifle like a heavy perfume. Suddenly on soft creature gives away the show: 'On dirait une femme- you'd say it was a woman," she breathed "It is a woman!" I answered furiously. The ranks simply melt! (p. 79) Here it is shown clearly how society of the time saw the position of gender. Once Sergeant exclaimed the she is a woman, "the ranks simply melt." It is clear the injured woman is not as admirable as the injured man. What a man does is simply more important in our society. Sergeant's piece says a lot about war. Clearly it is a man's event. The women who served in it where almost trivial. What is interesting, as Sergeant's own accounts show, is that while women were doing extraordinary things, and were risking their lives as well, it is never really as important as a man's work. It is all about the soldier who fights in the war.

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