Character Analysis Of Joe Bonham In Johnny Got His Gun

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Time in its simplest form is a measurement of our life here on Earth. It is up for humans to determine how to invest that time, and make a meaning or substance of it. Each person is unique in their own way, with a set of values and beliefs that curate the actions that humans will make. War and the decision to become involved in it is a personal investment of a person’s time, and that person must decide whether their investment in a war is personal to them. Two of these people are characters. Joe Bonham, in the novel Johnny Got His Gun is a young soldier who made the decision to fight in World War I, but suffers immensely devastating injuries and is trapped within his mind to deal with them. Similarly, Charlie Anderson, from the American…show more content…
Joe is living in the early 1900s, during a time of war that relied heavily on the physical effort of Americans. Joe is an American who gets drafted for war, and is forced to invest his body for the cause. “He had no legs and no arms and no eyes and no ears and no nose and no mouth and no tongue.” (Trumbo 62). Joe realizes that he lost his entire body from the war, and that he made the ultimate sacrifice. His values and beliefs did not line up with those of the war, and he begins to wonder why he gave up his extremities for it. Joe is a victim of the glorification of war that confused him into believing that his investment in that war was personal, when, in fact, it was the act of manipulation by the masters of war. Arguably, though, Joe is not completely naive to the fact that he was manipulated, “Somebody tapped you on the shoulder and said come along son we’re going to war. So you went. But why?”(Trumbo 109-110). Joe says it himself that he merely went off to war because of another American telling him to. Not because he wanted to fight for his country, nor because the cause was close to his heart, but because of an act of manipulation and selfishness. Similarly, Joe also questions why Americans would actually made the decision to fight without being drafted, “If they talk about dying for principles that are bigger than life you say mister you’re a liar. Nothing is bigger than life.” (Trumbo 119). While Joe’s investment was coerced into him, he knows that some Americans choose to fight out of their own values and beliefs. His beliefs cloud him, however, with the idea of choice. Joe did not get the opportunity to choose his own destiny, and he is trying to protect those who do have the choice, and protect them. His newfound dedication to protected those who are manipulated into thinking they are invested in war is quite profound
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