There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling, I had to believe whatever clocks said—and calendars
At either of those places you felt that you were taking part in a crusade. That was the only word for it although it was a word that had been so worn and abused that it no longer gave its true meaning. You felt, in spite of all bureaucracy and inefficiency and part strife, something that was like the feeling you expected to have and did not have when you made your first communion. It was a feeling of consecration to a duty toward all of the oppressed of the world which would be as difficult and embarrassing to speak about as religious experience and yet it was authentic as the feeling you had when you heard Bach, or stood in Chartres Cathedral or the Cathedral at Leon and saw the light coming through the great windows; or when you saw Mantegna and Greco and Brueghel in the Prado. It gave you a part in something that you could believe in wholly and completely and in which you felt an absolute brotherhood with the others who were engaged in it. It was something that you had never known before but that you had experienced now and you gave such importance to it and the reasons for it that your own death seemed of complete unimportance; only a thing to be avoided because it would interfere with the performance of your duty. But the best thing was that there was something you could do about this feeling and this necessity too. You could fight.
There’s a loneliness that only exists in one’s mind. The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their whole world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly
“It is difficult, when faced with a situation you cannot control, to admit that you can do nothing.”
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.