Thursday, May 28, 2015

ending of "Johnny Got His Gun," Dalton Trumbo (1938)

Put the guns into our hands and we will use them. Give us the slogans and we will turn them into realities. Sing the battle hymns and we will take them up where you left off. Not one not ten not ten thousand not a million not ten millions not a hundred millions but a billion two billions of us all the people of the world we will have the slogans and we will have the hymns and we will have the guns and we will use them and we will live. Make no mistake of it we will live. We will be alive and we will walk and talk and eat and sing and laugh and feel and love and bear our children in tranquillity in security in decency in peace. You plan the wars you masters of men plan the wars and point the way and we will point the gun.

....yyyyyeah, I still remembered almost all of those last three pages not quite word-perfect but too fucking close enough (it came up in a discussion of Metallica elsewhere) and boy, talk about Excellent Books You Will Read Only Once. Never Again. And Remember Forever. And not in the good way. That story would make Gandhi punch a baby bunny.

That final paragraph always seemed like the most brutal turn of the screw ever to me, though, because how is that enraged desperate call to arms supposed to be pacifist? It seems like the war has finally driven the narrator absolutely nuts and there's nowhere else for the story to end, it self-destructs, like a bomb. The solution to killing is to kill the bastards who kill.

Nobody ever said insanity was logical, though, just look at the War on Terror ("sweep it all up, things related and not").