The Juxtaposition Of Private Witt And First Sgt. Welsch

918 WordsNov 29, 20164 Pages
The juxtaposition of Private Witt and First Sgt. Welsch in The Thin Red Line by Terrence Malick is used to illustrate the two ways that a man can view the world, in the most basic sense. John Cottingham also discusses these two ways in his book Philosophy of Religion. Cottingham describes the two ways as the atheist, who cannot see past the “disorganized concatenation of contingent episodes” in his experiences, and fails to find transcendent meaning in his experience of nature (Cottingham 61). This describes Welsch’s worldview. He has experienced war and from that experience he has concluded that there is no vertical plane that can draw him up. There is only the darkness here and now, all we can do is try to survive as long as we can. However, there is another way of seeing things, the way of the theist, or Private Witt. According to Cottingham, the theist not only can, but must have a sense of joy, reverence, and thankfulness for the experiences we have, because the theist can see the beauty, or as Witt would say, the glory, that shines through all things. The theist has a transfigured experience of reality. A theist encounters God in a profound way through his experience of nature, art, literature, and the like. The two views are strikingly different, and Mallick uses Witt and Welsch’s interactions, as well as nearly every other moment in the film, to illustrate the two manner of seeing the world. In their first interaction, Welsch spells out his beliefs about self
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