One could not, he said, continually reflect upon the material and spiritual waste involved whenever that highly trained product, a man in the prime of life, was instantaneously killed by a stray bullet, or life at the front would be one long misery.
"First the Matron comes round, then the house-doctor and then the visiting doctor. They all address you with fatuous, condescending remarks, to which you are expected to make a bright reply."
I had not yet acquired the self-protective callousness of later days, and I put into the writing of my diary that evening an emotion comparable to the feeling of shock and impotent pity that had seized Roland when he found the first dead man from his platoon at the bottom of the trench.
The transgression is not one of gender but of privacy, of having crossed frightful thresholds of intimacy without permission or even intention.
Sentiments such as 'We make discoveries within his body' or phrases like 'Helpless openings' and 'combat' suggest an aggressively masculine enterprise of cognitive enquiry and bodily conquest. Is the operating theatre the ultimate site for the reversal of gender politics?
The nurse, as well as the reader, is left with a crippling sense of inadequacy.
the figure of the nurse is strangely left out: neither a soldier not a civilian, she is not granted a place even in this medical 'no man's land'. Entrusted with the repair of minds and bodies the war has ravaged, she is thought to be immune to war trauma. If the nurse falls prey to trauma herself while sifting through her cargo of mutilated flesh, hers is a shame that dare not speak its name.
often far more depressing and painful than the men's memoirs: the helplessness of the nurse is translated into the haplessness of the witness-and in turn, the reader.
We dig into the yawning mouths of his wounds. Helpless openings, they let us into the secret places of his body. We plunge deep into his body. We make discoveries within his body.
We stare at the obscene sight of his innocent wounds. He allows us to do this. He is helpless to stop us.