A Look at Ernest Hemingway‚Äôs ‚ÄúSoldier‚Äôs Home‚Äù Compared to WWI and Shell Shock
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December 23, 2009
No Home for a Soldier
World War One (WWI) was arguably the most costly conflict in human history. With over "one third of men returning home" with serious mental ailments, this war had effects long after the armistice treaty (World War I Document Archive 18). This war lasted well past the signing of the treaty and went on to spark the beginning of the Second World War in 1939. Veterans were plagued with sickness long after the effects of the gas wore off and long after the guns fell silent, and to this day photographs of the trenches send chills down the spine of any man. WWI conjures up images of a no man 's land strewn with dead bodies; their…show more content… Unlike bullet wounds that healed, leaving a person looking relatively the same, chemical weapons left long lasting cosmetic effects on its victims. Soldiers who were exposed suffered grizzly burns on every body part that was exposed leaving the victim looking almost sub-human for his entire life. Indeed the outward effects of the gas were extremely present, however the larger consequence of the gas attacks were mental. This mental consequence, often referred to as "Shell Shock" by the men in the trenches, is known today as PTSD.
PTSD in WWI was a direct result of the intense fighting and horrid death that the average soldier was exposed to on a regular basis. Symptoms often did not manifest until weeks or sometimes months after the event and could be trigged by seemingly benign occurrences. Mustard gas with its signature yellow color, for instance, would emotionally scar the troops, prompting men to relive the gassing upon walking into a yellow room. WWI veterans often reported sleep disorders and night horrors that persisted until the end of their lives. This drove many veterans to alcohol, tobacco, and drug abuse to cope with the disorder (Newton 2). Upon having an attack PTSD patients would tremble violently and shriek in horror, to people, or of things that were not there. Often they became physically aggressive towards others and in extreme cases even kill. PTSD patients are often miserable, and find it hard to enjoy the things in life they once did. They