Saturday, March 31, 2007

Meaning of Parade in No More Parades


*"Bloody and Gross though the war is, it has it's own version of chastity which goes by the familiar name of "parade" As Ford uses it the word "parade" does not mean quite what it would to an American writer, for in addition to denoting a ceremonial public march with banners and band music, in the English army "parade" denotes a muster of troops for inspection and so, by extension, any moment of official duty. (Do you mind my asking," Tiejten's asks at one point, "Are we still on parade? Is this strafe from General Campion as to the way I command my unit?(Ford,328)) "...the word comes to express much more: it implies not merely discipline but good manners, even amenities, ceremony, perhaps at rare moments-ritual" (Gordon, 101)
*"At the beginning of the war," Tietjens said, "I had to look in on the War Office, and in a room I found a fellow...What do you think he was doing...What the hell do you think he was doing? He was devising the ceremonial for the disbanding of a Kitchener battalion. You can't say we were prepared in the least... Well, the end of the show was to be: the adjutant would stand the battalion at ease: the band would play Land of Hope and Glory, and then the adjutant saying There will be no more parades....For there won't. There won't, there damn well won't" (Ford, 306)
"Parade helped make the War possible, and yet the War is destroying parade, as wars always do. This time, however, the destruction threatens to be permanent" (Gordon, 101).
*"It is a world of movement orders and counterorders: we see troops being sent forward to the front, then called back, then late at night being marched into lines of tents by the light of the moon. But this depot is also a place where parade is perpetually being threatened, where morale is perpetually being broken down, for nothing works here quite as it should. "A Base is a place where you meditate, perhaps where in peace where the Tommies should write their last letters home..."(Ford, 297). A replacement depot in a war is different from a combat unit, and the moral of its men is especially subject to erosion by three things 1) red tape and regulations 2) enemy bombing and 3) memories of women and home. Of the soldiers that we see in the hut, Captain Tietjens, Captain McKechine, and Private Morgan all have wives who appear to have betrayed them. Each has suffered and is suffering. Two of these women are mercifully far away; not , however, Tietjens' Sylvia, who soon enters the scene to set the entire camp at odds and put all parade in jeopardy" (Gordon, 101-02)
*An illustration of how enemy bombing erodes Captain Mackenzie: "An enormous crashing sound said things of an intolerable intimacy to each of those men... The young officer stood violently up on his feet and caught at the complications of his belt hung from a nail. The elder, across the table, lounging sideways, stretched out one hand with a downwards movement. He was aware that the younger man, who was his senior officer, was just upon out of his mind" (Ford, 293)
*Memories of Sylvia erode Tietjen's mind. For example when Tietjens sees a vision of his wife (Ford, 299) and how he keeps replaying in his head the last time he saw her (Ford, 316)
*"Parade may be thought of as the principle that produces form; it is the principle also of good form, of coolness, poise and style. It is a function of parade to harmonize and order and so control the madness- the old chaos- that threatens most men at one time or another in this world....It is parade that Tietjens invokes in dealing with the disturbed Captain McKechnie- and not McKechnie alone"(Gordon, 102-3). For example:"There are madmen whose momentarily subconscious selves will respond to a military command as if it were magic. Tietjens remembered having barked 'about turn.' to a poor little lunatic fellow in some camp at home and the fellow who had been galloping hotfoot past his tent, waving a naked bayonet with pursuers fifty yards behind, had stopped dead and faced about with a military stamp like a guardsman" (Ford, 298).
*Tietjens can be seen to emulate the parade form of coolness and poise in part two of No More Parades when Tietjens goes to meet Sylvia at the hotel. Sylvia says: "Damn his chivalry!..Oh, Damn his chivalry! She knew what was going on in his mind. He had seen her, with Perowne, so he had neither come towards her nor directed the servant to where she sat. For fear of embarrassing her! He would leave it for her to come to him if she wished" (381).
*"The really telling part against parade- as against ritual, magic spells, manners and decorum, and perhaps form of all sorts- is its ridiculous, almost impertinent inadequacy when it is opposed to the lawless chaos of forces(the undisciplined squads of emotion") with which by its nature it has to contend. Parade at last cannot control these, since it remains in part at least a function of the forces it seeks to control- like a "church militant" in a fallen world. Drills, which are pretty in peacetime, in war are implicated in the whole senseless mess" (Gordon, 105).
*The idea of Parade can be seen to tie in with Freudism in the sense that one has to suppress the inner id (one's emotions and inner thoughts) and follow orders; form. As stated earlier it harmonizes and orders and so in turn controls the madness of one's inner thoughts about the war or in Tietjen's case Sylvia.

source: Gordon, Ambrose.The Invisible Tent.USA:University of Texas Press,1964.

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