Essay on The Long and the Short and the Tall By Willis Hall

Essay on The Long and the Short and the Tall By Willis Hall

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The Long and the Short and the Tall By Willis Hall

Which three or four characters do you think are most to blame for the
death of the platoon in ' The Long and the Short and the Tall' by
Willis Hall. Explain in detail which character you think most to blame
and why.

Sergeant Mitchem, Private Bamforth and Private Whitaker are the main
contenders for ' blame ' in respect of the death of the platoon.
However, it is important to recognise that the allocation of
significant blame for the death of the platoon is by no means an easy
task. In short, although it is Private Whitaker who shoots the
Japanese soldier, this act is merely the ' culmination ' of a domino
effect of several other contributory factors, not least the individual
relationship between platoon members and a series of serious
misjudgements by various characters throughout the play.

It is possible to construct a reasonably plausible argument that, as '
officer in command ', Sergeant Mitchem must shoulder significant blame
for the death of the platoon. Mitchem is ' guilty ' of a series of
serious misjudgements, which so obviously have an impact on the fatal
finale. Mitchem is in a position of authority, but he does not impress
as a strong character or effective leader. Had he been an effective
'leader ' of men under his command, Mitchem should have been able to
control the disruptive Bamforth, but he does not. When Bamforth is
teaching the prisoner ' to speak ', Mitchem tells him to stop but does
not follow through by taking the control his authority should give
him.

Other events, dialogue and decision making by Mitchem can easily be
considered with a critical eye...


... middle of paper ...


... by now ' excited ' prisoner. When
the agitated prisoner gets up from the chair, instead of using
physical force, or perhaps his bayonet, to threaten or coerce the
prisoner into sitting down again, we are told that ' Whitaker's finger
tightens on the trigger. A long burst from the sten shudders……and the
bullets slam home into the body of the prisoner like hammer blows '.

The ' long burst from the sten ' fired by Whitaker into the prisoner
illustrates, at an individual level, that it must be he who is most
directly to blame for the death of the platoon. The catalogue of
misjudgements by other characters, and the other contributory factors
outlined throughout, culminated in a situation arising in which the
split second action of a weak, cowardly and incompetent man
effectively sealed the fate of the entire platoon.

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