How Did Robert Graves Decide To Be Nonsense

1842 Words8 Pages

Robert Graves was an English writer who was fought in World War One despite his disagreement with the war in general. When Russell asked him whether he would shoot a group of striking factory workers who were impeding the war effort, Graves said he would, and that his men would obey him and carry out the order. The reasons that Graves had this answer and believed it, despite believing that the war was nonsense was due to the fact he did not believe the factory workers had a right to hamper the war effort because they were avoiding the real fighting of the war. Moreover, the progression of his mental state, coupled with the disrespect he believed the people and the factory workers were showing the war effort also were causes for his answer to …show more content…

When Bertrand Russell first brings up the idea of the factory workers to Graves, Graves answers with that he would kill them, and that his men would be “only too glad of a chance to shoot a few… they think that they are skrim-shankers.” Grave said he would order the men to fire on the workers if all else failed, so we can assume that he also held this belief as well. Skrim-shankers was a form of slang used during World War One which meant “a person who avoids work.” Due to the fact that Graves and his men believed that factory workers are not doing any real work in regards to the war, it can be inferred that they share a high level of distaste for them. World War One was a particularly violent and difficult war with many atrocities occurring. Graves and his men were likely too have already experienced many of these atrocities, and these events will shape their view of these workers as people who had avoided all of these horrors in favor of easier, safer job. With the soldiers believing that the work these workers have are easy and without real hardship, they will naturally come to the conclusion that there is no real reason that they should impede the war effort, and that they should at least do the easy job that they were given. This disdain for men having easier work, and refusing to do the work despite the fact they do …show more content…

During the war, Graves cites an incident where he says “at my feet lay the cap [his comrade] had worn, splashed with his brains. I have never seen human brains before…Even a miner cannot make a joke…over a man who takes three hours to die after the top part of his head is taken off.” (98) This illustrates the beginning of when Graves’s mental state becomes more negative towards the war. Graves seeing someone’s brains for the first time in a war that he believes is nonsense in the first place will create a negative attitude, as it is a horrific event. This negative attitude continues as he returns home. When he had arrived home on the train, “[he] looked idly at the crowd, one figure detached itself. To [his] embarrassment- it was [his] father, hopping about on one leg… and cheering with the best of them.” Graves had finally came back home from the war to see his family, yet seeing his father cheering at the fact his son had arrived home safe had only brought him embarrassment. This embarrassment displays the degree of which his negative attitude had manifested. A rational and common response to seeing one’s family after an extended period of time, especially in a circumstance such as war, would be joy. Despite being home from the war, it can be argued that the war still continued for Graves in his mind.

Open Document