Tag Archives: Siegfried Sassoon

War Literature as a Medium of Separation, Unity and History

The idea that war literature – insofar as the genre truly exists – can contain powerful invocations of separation and unification is largely correct, though it is rather general. Tales of separation and unification are often part of war literature, but they are frequently a secondary or tertiary theme, serving as a subplot or an auxiliary. In The Kite Runner, a novel by Khaled Hosseini which has achieved tremendous prominence among general readers and those interested in contemporary Afghanistan, the unification of Amir – the protagonist – and Sohrab (a boy, the son of Amir’s childhood friend and half-brother Hassan, whom he has to rescue in order to achieve redemption) is prefaced with, and set within the context of, the latter’s being sexually abused. This situation is a demonstration of the power of war to create a climate which contains the destruction of morality and the exploitation of the weak. Effective war literature is acute in observation, truthful in judgement, and imparts, as Hosseini himself wrote in an article for Time, some moral message or sensation. The theme of unity and separation can conform to all of these elements; but it is frequently overshadowed by other narrative elements, which collectively serve to drive works of war literature and give the genre its moral force. Continue reading