This act was unimaginable, unprecedented and changed the world as we knew it, more importantly changed the way we thought at the time. Morality was compromised, human lives lost their value and entire social paradigms were shifted to accommodate the irrationality and gross inhumanity that was prevalent in World War II. In response to the shifting values of the post-WI period, Cold War literature is characterized by an intensified questioning of the nature of humanity, human beliefs and values and is imbued with a sense of uncertainty and anxiety.
John Hershey 1 946 journalistic memoir, Hiroshima, Samuel Bucket’s 1 956 absurdist play Waiting for Got, Ken Keyes/s 1962 critique of behaviorism novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and Ronald Reggae’s Evil empire speech all encapsulate the post-war zeitgeist that suggests disenchantment with the political and religious structures of the mime and an increasing anxiety towards the inevitability??y’ of death and the lack of humanity in the world.
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Through different forms they all respond to and captured the fear of mankind destroying itself and thus question the purpose of one’s existence if death is the only certainty. The decision to drop the atomic bomb on Hiroshima brought to the surface previously unheard of debates. When in history, has mankind ever possessed the technology to so utterly destroy itself before the atomic bomb? The human consciousness was forced to recognize the reality of its existence to a level never before experienced.
The world now faced the heightened fragility of the human experience as technology and science evolved into a method of pure destruction that could be used to annihilate humanity. This subsequently led to the world being paralyses by fear and distrust of the enemy. Coming to the realization that Hershey notes in Hiroshima “our life is short, we don’t live twice; the whirlwind will pick up the leaves and spin them, but then it will drop them and they will form a pile. ” But, with such leaps in technology as these, comes triumphal. President Harry S.
Trauma’s press release on the 6th August 1 945 clearly encapsulates he celebratory triumphal of the post-WI period as he elevates the bomb to celestial heights, describing it as a “harnessing of the basic power of the universe. ” He alludes that it was in fact God’s will that the American’s possess such destructive technologies. The American population, however, knew little of the potential of the atomic bomb and its impact on the people of Hiroshima. Hershey journalistic memoir was thus vital in striping away previously held perspectives of the bomb as a “great human triumph” and exposing the harsh reality of the situation.
Hershey, while generally adopting a urinalysis style, divulges into more gruesome imagery at times to assault the reader’s senses. Explicit descriptive language of a woman’s skin slipping off her hands in “glove-like pieces” and people whose faces had been wholly burnt, “the fluid from their melted eyes [running] down their cheeks” challenges the statistical portrayals of the bomb’s impact and forces the reader to question how such deeds could possibly be justified.
These thoughts are consistent with the disenchantment many felt with the government authorities of the time who, during WI, compromised the well- being of their people to fight for their own gain. The distrust many people felt with the authorities is further established in Seedy unsentimental novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest as he heavily critiques the bureaucratic Systems and their lack of reason and humanity. Keyes uses mechanical imagery to represent modern society.
Chief Broaden convicts humanity as a robotics adjusted man and that the people from the asylum that are integrated into society are just collections of wheels and cogs, smaller replicas of a smoothly functioning larger social machine. “The ward is a factory for the Combine” Broaden describes. “Something that came all twisted different is now a injunction, adjusted component, a credit to the whole outfit and a marvel to behold. Watch him sliding across the land with a welded grin… “By means of mechanisms and machines, society gains control of and suppresses individuality.
Musher’s characters use of mischief and humor to undermine authority is proved to be useless, forcing him to face his death. The actions of man are futile against this bureaucratic system that is apathetic to the death of man; a sentiment that permeated the Cold War Period. Along with conflict between the government and its people, the Cold War erred was fraught with ideological rivalry where the capitalists feared the communists and vice versa. The rise of McCarthy and the Vietnam War both epitomized this fear of communism.
But, as a result of this, the power of Capitalism rose. The value of human life is overruled by the desire for profit such that man is now a commodity. Bozo in Bucket’s Waiting for Got explores the greed that stems from capitalism. Bozo is a metaphor for Faustian man, surrounding himself with material items to create the illusion of grandeur and sacrificing the well-being of his slave, Lucky, in order to attics his every whim, just as Faustus sold his soul for knowledge, glory and comfort.
By employing the character of Bozo, Becket reflects on the creation of the bomb, likening it to a classic Faustian pursuit – politicians trading their morals and humanity for the ultimate control of power. These sentiments of moral compromise were felt during the Cold War period as many believed that the world war run by greed for money and power and thus those in power overlooked their sense of humanity and the well-being of their people.
The horrific events that unfolded during World War II and the time period that allowed, such as the Holocaust, the atomic bomb and the Vietnam War, created a sense of disillusionment with government forces and economic ideologies but also religious ideologies. The world felt betrayed by their God who was supposed to be so good and kind but who allowed such inhumanities to occur. Becket truly captures the religious and moral dilemma of the era within Storage’s and Vladimir responses to the metaphorical Godson’s absence.
Whether Got will actually arrive, however, is uncertain. Vladimir biblical allusion to the story of the two thieves at Christi crucifixion s reminiscent of the two tramps’ uncertainty of whether Got will come and the religious uncertainty that pervaded the post-War period where no One could be certain that a life of moral integrity would lead to eternal salvation. The thieves faced a 50/50 chance of salvation – “one is supposed to have been saved and the other… Damned”. Both thieves led immoral lives but one was still saved thus the uncertainty arises.
IN capturing this mood of uncertainty, Becket “parts company with both believers and existentialists because he presents existence as a dilemma that cannot be resolved either y taking a god or refusing all gods,” as noted by literary critic, S. P. Smith. Hiroshima, on the other hand, is a defense of God in a time of seeming Godlessness. Religion and faith are prominent themes within the text and help each of the characters deal with the horror and suffering that surrounds them. Miss Assai asks Father Schlesinger “If your God is so good and kind, how can he let people suffer like this? To which Schlesinger replies “Man is not now in the condition God intended. ” Instead of questioning God’s role in the creation of the bomb, Father Schlesinger regains his inner peace, questioning, instead, “Whether total war in its present form is justifiable, even when it serves a just purpose”. The differing views of religion and faith between the two texts reveal the conflict present during the Cold War period. While some relied on Religion to cope with the suffering and death around them, others dismissed religion altogether as they felt betrayed by their God.
Through the use of the religious paradigm as a rhetorical justification for defining good and evil in ideological terms, President Ronald Reggae’s Evil empire speech delivered in 1983 contributes to the growing sense of morality in American society. Critic Lester Thompson alludes to this “Reagan uses religion as a justification Of morality against the enemy. ” In this framework, the enemy represented by the communist block is presented to be the evil empire because its political economic and social structures differ from those of the west.