Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Axis/Axes to GrindPolitical Slants in American World War II Novels, 1945-1975$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Milton A. Cohen

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781949979749

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781949979749.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

The Soldier1 and the System

The Soldier1 and the System

Three War Novels of the 1950s Era

(p.101) Chapter Three The Soldier1 and the System
Axis/Axes to Grind

Milton A. Cohen

Liverpool University Press

A distinctive theme in the culture of the 1950s was conformity to the “system” versus rebellion against it. This chapter studies three quintessentially “50s” war novels that feature this theme: Jones’s From Here to Eternity, Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (published in 1961, but essentially a “50s” novel). As with novels about Black-White conflicts, the authors’ perspectives of these individual-vs.-system theme vary markedly. Jones sympathetically depicts an outsider’s rebellion by Private Prewitt against unjust treatment and an insider’s one by Sergeant Warden. Both characters reflect Jones’s own ambivalence about the Army. Wouk’s lower-level officers mutiny against the incompetent and paranoid Captain Queeg during a killer typhoon when their ship’s survival is at stake. Though the evidence supports the mutineers, Wouk seems to side with naval authority which punishes them. Heller depicts a self-serving power elite that profits from the war and avoids danger versus the lower-level officers, emblemized by Yossarian, who must fly an ever-increasing number of missions. The chapter clarifies misconceptions about the number of missions and about whether the “enemy” is an impersonal system or particular people. Heller’s complete sympathy for his belated rebel, Yossarian, anticipates (but differs from) anti-war themes of the later 1960s.

Keywords:   military as system, military rebels: Prewitt, Warden, Maryk, Yossarian, From Here to Eternity, The Caine Mutiny, Catch-22, 1950s ethos of conformity vs. rebellion

Liverpool Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.