Guide British Literature of the Blitz: Fighting the Peoples War

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Above all else, British Literature of the Blitz values the voicing of individual opinion, even -- or especially -- when individuals do not agree; a utopia that denies the freedom to critique utopianism is no utopia at all. Miller, Kristine. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Also available for sale through the publisher: Palgrave Macmillan. Immediately, cliques were formed. The moment you entered the room, you knew 82 British Literature of the Blitz exactly which group to join, almost instinctively.

The noisy group in the middle was the working-class one: bar-maid, waitress, mill-girl, domestic servant, and a few others. Others paired off, skirting one or another of the main groups. These noncombatant men often imagine the soldier not as he is but as an iconic standard of masculinity, a standard that civilians can necessarily never obtain. Left behind on the home front, they must therefore rethink masculinity and find other ways of being real men in wartime.

Examining the experiences of men across battle lines rather than those of women across class lines, the fiction describes men who either remain anxiously at home or return from combat physically and psychologically wounded. In both Caught and Back , the resulting crises of masculinity force characters to become more open-minded about the possibilities for being a real man. Green himself never saw action during the war.

Born in , Henry Yorke — his given name — was 34 years old at the beginning of the Second World War.

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He was thus within the age range of men 18—41 who were required to register for call-up, but he was significantly older than the first recruits in their early 20s. The AFS offered Green not only the chance to serve as a noncombatant in the war but also the opportunity to continue running Pontifex, the Yorke family firm that manufactured brewery and bathroom fixtures.

So that when the Board of Directors agreed to my joining the AFS I was able to call in at the office every third day all through the war, for we worked two days on with one off, and if not at a fire was always available, if only in my case, to sign cheques. Green, Bowen, and Lehmann belonged together in both the uppermiddle class and the same generation of literary writers. Eventually close platonic friends, Green and Lehmann were initially attracted to one another, and biographer Jeremy Treglown indicates that they almost certainly had a brief affair before Lehmann and DayLewis began their wartime relationship.

Alongside the jealous triangle of Bowen, Lehmann, and Goronwy Rees described in Chapter 2, this possible attraction — and definite friendship — between Lehmann and Green suggests the relatively small world in which these writers lived and worked. Like most of their social peers, Bowen, Lehmann, and Green were all free to choose interesting and compelling war work, and they thus shared the privilege of mingling selectively with the working classes during the war.

Having selectively interacted with the working class in the past, Green and other men in his position were skeptical about the possibility of 86 British Literature of the Blitz lasting wartime social change.

The People's War

This motley crew took orders from newly deputized officers drawn from among the regulars of the London Fire Brigade LFB. Unlike the privileged women who entered the workforce only with the passage of new conscription laws, these men already knew from past experience how difficult it was to bridge the economic distance between classes, a knowledge shared by the working-class women described in Chapter 1.

The men were consequently cynical about the possibility of wartime social change. Recognizing that the appearance of equality was no more than a working arrangement, these men harbored little hope for — or fear of — a postwar social revolution. What many of them did fear, however, was a sexual revolution brought on by wartime conscription legislation, which changed gender relations by drawing more women than ever before into the workforce.

Thus, even if civilian men were not comparing themselves to the soldierly ideal, other men and women were clearly doing so. Thus, women made up less than eight percent of the armed forces in and only about 37 percent of the home-front workforce, and the total number of women serving in military auxiliary services and civil employment combined was still only two-thirds of the total number of men serving only on the home front in civil employment and defense. Furthermore, there were almost three times as many men serving on the home front as on the front line: 11,, British men worked in civil employment, compared to only 3,, serving in the military Dear Even the women who were working on the home front posed no financial threat to men.

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However, there were many loopholes to the requirement for equal pay, and employers could easily justify unequal pay for working women and men in similar positions: The words which had been signed left some ground for sincere misunderstanding, and a great deal more for wilful evasion. The employer could make a small alteration in the job and say that there was no pre-war precedent.

He could affect to believe that the agreement applied only to skilled work, which was quite untrue, or argue more plausibly that a woman who could do only one skilled job was worth less than a fully trained man. However, men who failed medical exams, worked in reserved occupations, or fell outside of draft age limits could not enlist, no matter how many women entered the workforce. Through no fault of their own, these men found themselves blamed and accused of cowardice for staying on the home front with the women: There was, at this time, a resurgence of a notorious folly of the First World War.

Calder, PW The white feathers — and even the well-intentioned medical badges — labeled civilian men as noncombatants and therefore forced them to defend a masculinity called into question by their inability to serve. Some men tried to resolve this question by identifying themselves with the soldiers typically honored as heroes by the British public. Sonya Rose has argued that wartime masculinity often seemed to depend upon visible military service, as the epidemic of white feathers suggests: In order for men to be judged as good citizens, they needed to demonstrate their virtue by being visibly in the military.

It was only then that the components of hegemonic masculinity could cohere. It is no wonder then that male workers on the home front likened themselves to battle heroes while attempting to make the case that their contributions to the nation and those of men in the armed services were equivalent. Woodcock adopts this approach in a diary entry from 13 September For other men, it was more important to call the heroic standard of the soldier hero into question than it was to live up to that standard. Soldiers themselves recognized the disjunction between an idealized masculinity and the reality of military service.

People stop to look at anything, really. He knows if he wears down the civilians while the armies remain idle he can win. So he bombs London and then we bomb Berlin, more and more and more, and so the rotten old game goes on. With so many women entering the wartime workforce, noncombatant men often felt mounting pressure to enlist, since staying at home now meant engaging in war work that women could often do just as well as men. Some noncombatants tried to reassert their threatened masculinity by putting women back in their place.

Roe comes as close to the icon of the soldier hero as he can by joining the AFS in London, where he battles blazes to 92 British Literature of the Blitz protect other civilians. Ultimately, however, he is neither soldier nor hero, and his achievements as a firefighter do not give him a strong sense of self. Describing the emotionally fraught experiences of this Auxiliary fireman during the Blitz, Caught rejects standard gender roles and demonstrates instead how wartime masculine identity — much like the feminine identity explored in earlier chapters — is the product of multiple, conflicting narratives about experience during the Blitz.

In these circumstances, the wounded soldier becomes not an icon of heroic masculinity but a sign of instability within prevailing narratives of wartime gender identity. Even more than Roe, Charley loses his sense of self on the home front, and the extremity of his circumstances forces him to discover new ways of resolving the problem productively. In the s, critics such as A. Dispute leads relentlessly to war not only because war is an extension and intensification of dispute but because it is a correction and reversal of it.

That is, injuring not only provides a means of choosing between disputants but also provides, by its massive opening of human bodies, a way of reconnecting the derealized and disembodied beliefs with the force and power of the material world. An international dispute opens up ideological wounds by bringing two sets of national values into conflict, revealing both sets to be socially constructed rather than naturally given.

Soldiers willingly sacrifice their bodies for such abstractions because nationalist ideology encourages them to place issues of national security over and above the instinct for self-preservation.


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Ideals of kinship and brotherhood underwrite a nationalistic discourse that tells soldiers how to think about the sacrifice of their bodies during wartime. Although Wilfred Owen and other writers had made it difficult to believe that dulce et decorum est pro patria mori in the wake of the First World War, there was no other script available to rationalize a warfare now based on massive air strikes and anti-aircraft defense.

Shoring up the morale of soldiers in the Second World War with the slogans and rhetoric of the First, Britain mobilized its forces by arguing even more forcefully that the soldier was a hero bound by honor to defend his nation, home, and family. As a master rhetorician as well as politician, Winston Churchill recognized the need for a patriotic script during the Second World War, and his war speeches exhort soldiers to understand their physical sacrifice as a heroic defense of national ideals. How often have we been told that we are the effete democracies whose day is done, and who must now be replaced by various forms of virile dictatorships and totalitarian despotism?

No doubt at the beginning we shall have to suffer, because of having too long wished to lead a peaceful life. Our reluctance to fight was mocked at as cowardice. Our desire to see an unarmed world was proclaimed as the proof of our decay. Now we have begun. Now we are going on. His closing lines, appealing to public belief in God, civilization, and freedom, make those deaths dulce et decorum once again. In Caught, Green examines the ways in which the rhetoric of the soldier hero fails to account for masculinity on the home front.

On 7 September , the first major Blitz on London set the docks of the East End ablaze, and the bombing over the next 76 consecutive nights was literally a trial by fire for the approximately 23, inexperienced Auxiliary firemen — like Green and Roe — who joined the London Fire Service at the beginning of the war. Even the core of regular firefighters had never seen anything like the destruction that swept through London in — An Auxiliary fireman describes one such night in his memoir: The worst blaze [ This was caused by fractured gas-mains igniting.

The alleyway was alight across its width, as also was the end of the street in which we were working. The flames issued from wide cracks in the road surface. Actually we were working with our backs against one side of the street, aiming our jets into the warehouse, with the street alight in front of us. On top of this we were warned not to let our jets strike the brickwork of the warehouse wall as this was very shaky and the impact would probably cause it to fall. The home-front battle took its toll on civilians: in the —41 Blitz alone, , London homes were destroyed and at least 20, London civilians were killed; of those, more than were firefighters Ziegler As one Canadian volunteer at a London fire station wrote in her wartime diary, I tell you I take my hat off to those men, most of whom had no knowledge of a fire before except the one in their own hearth.

Mrs Y. Green Mrs Green here pays tribute to the heroes who battled the fires of the Blitz, fires in which she herself perished shortly after writing this tribute. However, as a member of the AFS since , Green was well aware that the public had not always conceived of firemen in such idealized terms. For the first year of the war, there were no German bomb attacks on Britain. An AFS volunteer recalls attitudes toward firemen in early So bad did the feeling become in some places [ Caught demonstrates how tempting it is for civilian men to try to play the role of hero in this propagandistic script — and how rarely the role describes the real man.

Roe is ashamed of his failure to protect his son, particularly since his noncombatant status is the direct result of being widowed and becoming the sole guardian of a dependent child. Struggling to find a motive for the crime, Pye is shocked to realize that his first sexual encounter — a clandestine meeting on a dark night — was perhaps not with the servant girl he remembers but with his own sister, who eventually kidnaps the boy to play the part of their unborn child. This absurd situation makes solidarity between the working-class Pye and the upper-middle-class Roe difficult and heroism nearly impossible; instead of battling the fires of the Blitz together, these men are personally at odds, consumed by their fiery emotions.

Pye becomes suicidally depressed as a brother-lover who must commit his sister to a mental institution, while Roe experiences helplessness as a widowed father temporarily robbed of his son. Even their names together — Pye and Roe — suggest a personal conflagration that burns as hot as any fire in the Blitz. The novel emphasizes the appeal of these fictions in wartime, even for a pragmatic businessman like Richard Roe.

However, he also realizes that his vague, repetitive words fail to convey his own experiences in the London Blitz. Narrating his part in the script of the fireman hero, he discovers that he cannot tell this fictional tale with conviction, even when that is exactly what his audience wants him to do. This moment of self-contradiction is the first in a series of parenthetical asides in the last part of the novel that show Roe thinking outside the limits of the ideological script. They sat very still, beneath the immensity. For, against it, warehouses, small towers, puny steeples seemed alive with sparks from the mile high pandemonium of flame reflected in the quaking sky.

This fan, a roaring red gold, pulsed rose at the outside edge, the perimeter round which the heavens, set with stars before the fading into utter blackness, were for a space a trembling green. The raging fire in the passage threatens to consume the tiny, passive firemen who sit still rather than leap heroically into the fray. Roe remembers the kidnapping as he returns to London after spending a brief leave from the AFS with his son in the country. Roe nevertheless visualizes the day in a long parenthetical section that prefigures the depiction of the unquenchable fire quoted above.

Caught in another patch of colour, some of her chin was pillar-box red, also a part of the silver fox she wore. Roe fears that his passivity as a paternal guardian undermines his ability to perform heroically in civic defense. The pressure to contain this anxiety not only inside himself but also within the parentheses of the text creates the aesthetic tension of Caught.

Looking to the fireman for an escape from her own wartime tears and fears, Dy wants Roe to play the part of the hero rather than the cissie. Playing with this fire, Caught describes a man caught between the emotional demands of his private life and the political imperative of his public image. Even as he releases everything here, Roe pits men against women, rebuilding the traditional gender barriers eroded by his sentimental tears only moments before.

Caught describes in detail how language can catch speakers up, trapping them in conventional ideas and routine phrases. Yet at the same time the novel offers an escape: through its constant revision and rewriting of the Blitz, Caught manages itself not to become caught within any one of the several ideological scripts it describes.

The novel demonstrates that such nationalist rhetoric is as much a product of the literary imagination as any other war story. Back tells the story of Charley Summers, a British soldier just repatriated from a German prisoner-of-war camp at the end of the Second World War. The suggestion here is that soldiers, like Charley, who return having proven their valor on the front line can reap the benefits of a discourse that equates military power with sexual prowess.

The returning hero will therefore get the girl waiting on the home front, and her kiss will then validate him as a man of action, energy, and will — both on the battlefield and in the bedroom. This symbolic logic governs many patriotic war movies of the period; however, the problem during the Second World War was that most British soldiers did not return home like John Wayne. The Introduction describes how even soldiers on active duty sometimes found themselves helplessly waiting for news of their bombed families. Those who were physically wounded in battle or captured by the enemy found it especially difficult to think of themselves as either war heroes or matinee idols upon repatriation.

After all, not only did an amputated limb undercut conventional images of the desirable male body, but the prisoner of war had also spent much of the war not fighting vigorously but waiting patiently. The wounded soldier therefore returned home to find himself doubly emasculated: ironically, his symbolic castration and enforced passivity better suited him to the role of waiting girl than returning hero.

Even more than the civilian men in Caught, wounded soldiers like Charley Summers in Back embody the crisis of masculinity facing men on the British home front during and immediately after the war. Like Charley, Middlewitch has recently been repatriated after the amputation of a limb. In conversation with Charley, Middlewitch repeatedly converts the physical liability of his prosthetic arm into this kind of advantage: But it can be a sight awkwarder at more intimate moments, eh?

Lord yes. Mine squeaked the other day, just when I was putting it round her fattest bit. Never fear though, they like it. Through Middlewitch, Back dramatizes the coping strategies of many actual prisoners of war, whose diaries and memoirs also employ the wartime rhetoric of soldierly heroism to reaffirm their masculinity and to restore their sexual potency.

To compensate for the shame of appearing too weak to bathe himself, Palmer emphasizes instead that his shrunken, asthma-stricken body still has the strength to become aroused, despite the traumatic experience of the prison camp. Recognizing that wounded soldiers like Palmer, Middlewitch, and Charley all had to repress their sexuality in prison camps during the war, Back asks whether the repression produces the heightened sexual potency alluded to by Middlewitch and Palmer or whether it ultimately renders the soldier effete and powerless.

British Literature of the Blitz: Fighting the People's War by Kristine A. Miller - olagynulehyb.gq

After those prisoner-of-war camps [ Like Middlewitch, Charley desperately wants to believe that his war experience has not undermined but enhanced his virility, that his war wound can be deployed as a sexual secret weapon. Anxiety about changing gender dynamics in the home-front workplace was a major concern of noncombatant men during the war, and this fear continued into the postwar period. Will there be jobs for them? These problems are amplified for the wounded prisoner of war whose body both underwrites the war rhetoric of heroism and undercuts his ability to perform sexually.

Like Middlewitch, Charley initially finds that friends and colleagues watch him at work and make unwarranted assumptions about his sex life. Is that it? There you are. During the war, British women began enjoying not only the social and professional mobility but also the sexual freedom once afforded only to men.

The place oozes sex. In after-duty hours it is, for the most part, one huge, casual brothel. In a postwar world where a secretary can quite freely judge and jilt her boss, it is no wonder that Charley feels so much anxiety. Back demonstrates how this anxiety causes the wounded soldier to repress and deny the emotional trauma that accompanies physical trauma in time of war. For this reason, Middlewitch warns Charley against nursing his psychological wounds too openly or obviously.

Well, my advice to them and to you is, snap out of it. A favour. Just back from Germany. Like Charley, many British soldiers found physical trauma much easier to discuss than emotional pain. Despite its simplifications, nationalistic war rhetoric serves an important social function: it creates the cultural icon of the heroic soldier in which most British citizens — including Charley — desperately wanted to believe. He constructs an elaborate fantasy in which Rose has not died but has instead staged her death and then concealed the ruse by assuming the identity of her half-sister, Nancy Whitmore.

In forcing this narrative upon Nancy during his crisis of masculinity, Charley unwittingly adopts a variation of the rhetorical strategy British Literature of the Blitz that, according to Scarry, nations employ to describe the soldiers who sacrifice their lives on the battlefield. In order to shore up a national identity under siege in wartime, the nation defines a heroic masculine ideal and imposes it on soldiers like Charley. Similarly, in order to bolster a masculine identity jeopardized by his physical and emotional frailty, Charley defines a feminine ideal and imposes it on Nancy.

Like the nation that substantiates its ideologies with the bodies of dead or wounded soldiers, Charley tries to reaffirm his sexual identity by recalling the body of his dead lover. Over the course of the novel, the three Roses — the dead girlfriend, her living sister, and his sexual memory — come into conflict with one another. The problem is that Nancy will not comply.

Succeeding where Charley has failed, James defies the assumption that the returning war hero will always get the girl. In challenging the ideal of the soldier hero, both Nancy and James disturb Charley by forcing him to define his masculinity in other ways.

He told the office he had flu. He kept to his bed. Forced to wonder whether he is losing both his male authority and his reason, Charley begins to feel the pressure of sustaining a masculine identity so heavily reliant on the repression of emotional pain. Septimanie manages her grief and emotion more efficiently than Charley does.

Charley sleeps well because he has confronted, albeit unconsciously, the possibility of incorporating his emotions into his masculine identity. As a soldier hero, Charley should be able to get this girl and to live happily ever after. He knew that. He was too slow. Charley appears to be passive, cowardly, and effete, much as Churchill worried that the pacifist British nation would appear.

In doing so, he frees both Nancy and himself from conventional gender roles, accepting rather than fearing her sexual candor and his own emotional fragility.

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However, his tears suggest a new standard that embraces emotion and celebrates its sexual function, a standard the Richard Roe has yet to discover at the end of Caught. Instead of pitting individuals against an ahistorical language or discourse, Back presents men and women pitted against specific wartime political discourses that in turn pit them against each other. Much to his surprise, Charley Summers discovers that the warring nation cannot fasten him to its masculine ideal any more than he can fasten Nancy to his feminine ideal.

This chapter turns its attention to genre fiction, arguing that wartime detective and spy novels offered readers equally complicated representations of social relations on an embattled home front. The chapter doubles back to examine how two female detection writers Agatha Christie and Margery Allingham and one male spy writer Graham Greene represented the same conflicted ideas about the myth of the Blitz that Bowen, Lehmann, and Green explored in their wartime fiction. This argument initially seems counter-intuitive, since many readers and most scholars have described genre fiction as an imaginative escape from rather than a critical engagement with the chaos of war.

Down where I live in Bow, we had it night after night. But you found people reading a lot in the shelters. I think they found it a good way of getting away from all the horrors. Their mysteries, the argument goes, describe the process of outwitting an evil villain — whether a private murderer or a political mastermind — in order to return the chaotic world to its more peaceful status quo.

The fact that so many men and women of different classes read detective and spy fiction during the war suggests instead that the genre was flexible enough to accommodate British Literature of the Blitz the multiple and conflicting anxieties, desires, and perspectives of its broad audience. Because Christie survived the war and died much later in , Curtain was stored unpublished in a safe-deposit box until the end of her writing career in In Curtain, an old and dying detective Poirot commits murder himself.

For Christie, murder in wartime was no longer a drawing-room puzzle; instead, it had become an institutionalized mandate that made assassins and victims of all who fought. Christie was not alone in compromising the moral and psychological integrity of her detective during the war. It bellowed. It raved. It shrieked, tremblingly hysterical in the night, and from every side, above him, and beneath him, other bells echoed it in a monstrous cacophony of alarum. If them sirens go again tonight, I shall die.

The criticism attributes this generic paralysis to the extreme conservatism of detective fiction writers themselves. They do so in order to restore the status quo and therefore to manage the social anxieties of conservative writers and readers. Such protective measures may seem an appropriate response to the material violence and ideological confusion of the Second World War.

A few critics, such as Jon Thompson and M. More recently, R. York has suggested that the act of reading itself disrupts the conservatism of the detective novel: The fact that the genre tends towards ironic comedy implies that the values of an established elite are not necessarily truths and that the act of reading can be an occasion for distancing oneself from the certainties which it may be necessary to live by every day. The novels raise and emphasize these questions by experimenting with generic conventions.

Both Christie and Allingham use criminal scapegoats for the unconventional purpose of presenting and managing No Escape in Detective and Spy Fiction anxieties embedded within British culture at different points of time during the war. The beginning and end of the Second World War were especially stressful political periods for civilians in Great Britain. By selecting scapegoats from both dominant and deviant groups, the novels critique the same British social order that their detectives strive to protect. The ambivalence is clear even early in the war, when Christie and Allingham wrote novels that censured respectable upper-class men for failing to lead their countries effectively.

Even more radically, the novel implicates its detective, Albert Campion, in this web of political corruption. Campion therefore treats Amanda like a possession, much as Aubrey treats the working class as an economic force in his master plan. Aubrey will hang as a traitor because he has corrupted and sabotaged the system that empowers him; however, instead of simply violating social or political norms, as most criminals do, he endorses the status quo too fully and thus poses the danger of No Escape in Detective and Spy Fiction an orthodoxy verging on fascism. The distance allows Campion to respond to Amanda as an individual, rather than merely as an object of his own desire, and this increasing ability to interact meaningfully and equally will be the foundation of their future marriage.

The use of a scapegoat to purge extremists rather than deviants from the community of the novel demonstrates that scapegoating can serve a liberal as much as a conservative function in detective fiction. Agatha Christie explores similar issues in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe , but by , the fear of a too-powerful leader had grown even greater. Now that people are gradually realising the extent to which their over-confidence has been built up in recent years, they are beginning to get more bitter, disillusion[ed] about the whole authenticity, honesty and purpose of leadership.

Forced to expose and arrest a villain who shares many of his own political convictions, Poirot comes to question those convictions and to indict the practice of imposing static ideas upon a changing world.

Book Review: ‘The Myth of the Blitz’

Even as the novel condemns Blunt No Escape in Detective and Spy Fiction as a criminal who fails to recognize the value of individual human lives, it corrects the self-centeredness of upper-class leaders by forcing Poirot to choose humanity over ideology. Questioning government leadership in a war-wary Britain, Allingham and Christie reflect a common cultural concern of the early days of the Blitz. Their detective fiction works against generic conventions on this issue, scapegoating political extremists rather than social deviants in order to restore a degree of compassion to British conservatism.

However, in critiquing the bloated self-importance that leads prominent political figures to abuse their power, both of these novels represent a prevailing cultural anxiety early in the war: that Britain might be misled into betraying the fundamental principles of individuality and freedom, cooperation and fair play that should distinguish it from Nazi Germany. Many British citizens were eager to discover these values within their own experiences of the Blitz and thus to interpret the solidarity of a nation under siege and the cooperation of British women in the workforce as signs of impending social change.

Christie volunteered to fill prescriptions at the dispensary of University College Hospital, and she was so enthusiastic about her job that she called daily to offer herself as a substitute for anyone unable to work. However, because both authors had already worked as primary wage-earners in their households before the war, they discovered in wartime not the thrill of entering the workforce for the first time but, more significantly, the excitement of meeting and interacting with those who had constituted a vast, faceless audience for detective fiction before the war.

While both Christie and Allingham enjoyed coming face to face with their previously anonymous audiences, they also recognized that as the war came to a close, there was a conservative backlash against the prospect of postwar social change outlined in the best-selling Beveridge Report. They do not really mix. Privileged women were not alone in hoping to reinstate the prewar status quo; many men of all classes also supported a postwar reentrenchment of patriarchal power.

Legislation such as the Reinstatement in Civil Employment Act supported the desire to protect male employment by guaranteeing that returning soldiers could reclaim the civil service jobs that they had temporarily abandoned during the war. Seeking to return women as well as men to prewar conventional gender roles, the Conservative Party even went so far as to state the value of mothers in their general election manifesto: Mothers must be our special care.

Smith 30—1 No Escape in Detective and Spy Fiction Similarly, at the Conservative Party conference in , politicians overwhelmingly rejected the following resolution concerning postwar gender equality: That with the object of maintaining in the peace the partnership between men and women as full citizens that has proved so successful in war, this Conference affirms its belief that it is in the interest of the nation that opportunities and rewards shall be open equally to both sexes in order to ensure that the best mind or hand shall have the same chance to excel.

As the legislation or rejection of legislation during the period indicates, egalitarian rhetoric often aimed more to appease women and the working class than to reform a patriarchal and capitalist society. It is this deep-seated fear of social change that underwrites not only reactionary wartime legislation but also conventional scapegoating in wartime detective fiction.

By eliminating social and sexual miscreants, both the law and the genre appear to solidify a threatened social order. Christie and Allingham responded to this cultural anxiety about social change, just as they addressed the public mistrust of political leaders earlier in the war. Yet despite their widely recognized political conservatism, neither of these writers simply upheld the status quo by making scapegoats out of low-life criminals who had violated established boundaries between classes or genders — even though that is what their later war fiction initially appears to do.

Instead, both writers capitalized on conflicting hopes and fears across class and gender lines, creating double-edged representations of crime and punishment in wartime that appealed to readers across the political spectrum. Even as their novels punish social deviants as scapegoats, catering to an elite, conservative audience, they mount a simultaneous critique of the compulsion to scapegoat, appealing to disenfranchised or more liberal readers. The critique depends upon the experiences of female characters who, despite the social upheaval of wartime, find very little change in their postwar lives.

Offering up scapegoats who are as obviously unnecessary as they are obviously guilty, these novels call our attention to the ideological function of the scapegoat and therefore invite us to read their representations of scapegoats ironically. Before the fiction can critique scapegoating, however, it must first establish how scapegoats typically operate in a detective story. In this case, the swine are the secretary, Dolly Chivers, and her husband, Theodore Bush. The marriage not only blurs class lines but also, because it is more of a business contract than a love match, undermines the conventional relationship between husband and wife.

As a male detective defending the social order, Campion scapegoats these villains, whose marriage represents the wartime violation of both class and gender boundaries. When Hunter is convicted of murder and sentenced to death at the end of the novel, he is also expelled as a scapegoat from the insular world of the Cloades. And then I got out of touch with you — you seemed to me so tame — so meek — I felt life would be so safe with you — so dull.

I fell for David because he was dangerous and attractive — and, to be honest, because he knows women much too well. But none of that was real. Unfortunately it seemed that I was going to know it — just too late. And I am your woman, Rowley! British Literature of the Blitz interrogates the patriotic, utopian ideal of the People's War by analyzing conflicted representations of class and gender in literature and film. Its subtitle - Fighting the People's War - describes how British citizens both united to fight Nazi Germany and questioned the nationalist ideology binding them together.


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Read more Read less. Amazon Global Store US International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad and may differ from local products, including fit, age ratings, and language of product, labeling or instructions. Manufacturer warranty may not apply Learn more about Amazon Global Store. Product details Paperback: pages Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; 1st ed.