The Naked and the Dead was Norman Mailer's debut novel detailing the lives of a group of American soldiers during World War II. Coming just three years after the conclusion of hostilities, this lengthy tome transported the country back into the horrors of war. The poetry in this first foray into literature is rough and unrefined, but fitting for the nature of the characters. The slaughter in this epic tale is both physical and mental and the us against them mentality is more narrowly defined by every character as me versus the world. The book is a tortuous, intense journey into the depths of the destruction of humanity in an individual.
[...] The one man who does stand up and defends his wife experiences one of the most tragic moments ever written in a piece of fiction. Due to the delay in the amount of time it takes to deliver mail to the armed services, the young man receives word that his pregnant wife has given birth to their baby. He is immediately overcome with genuine joy. However, only a day later, he receives word that his wife died as a result of having given birth. [...]
[...] Death is an inevitability around him and for the reader to be in his presence is an invitation into psychosis. To further complicate matters, he is not portrayed as other.” Croft is not a man who was born into his own shade of evil, he was made into it. That is not to say that society should bear the blame for its deviants, but Croft was a product of his upbringing and his upbringing was not so terribly different from the average American's. [...]
[...] Having begun with An American Dream and moved back in time to The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer has continued to astound me. His work speaks of humanity stripped bare. Whether a soldier on a fictional island or a New York socialite, he showcases man at his worst and starved for affection. Perhaps that is what Mailer does best. He gives you a world absent of love and forces his characters to plead for it. The brokenhearted compatriots in this novel speak of terrible, cheating spouses and in An American Dream the wife is the devil incarnate. [...]
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