For a class assignment I had to take direct quotes from the book Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo and reflect on them. Here is what I had to say.
“Then this nice gentleman Jody Simmons had accepted him into the bakery and given him a fine job. That made him indebted to Jody Simmons no? Very well. He was indebted to Jody Simmons and now he had found a job. How was he to get out of the job Jody Simmons had given him in order to take the new job without offending the benefactor?” – Page 71
I like this passage for the fact that it shows how I believe that most people should think, in a sense. I like that Jose knows not to “bite the hand that feeds you”, and I think that more people should have this (what I find to be is) common sense. I understand needing to take a new direction, and not wanting to burn bridges with those that have done you a good deed. I’ve been in similar positions, so to see how Jose handles it really stood out to me. Although in the end Jose does what I hadn’t dared to do, I enjoy that he starts out with the moral state of mind, just as I always have tried to have.
“Hell’s fire guys had always been fighting for liberty. America fought a war for liberty in 1776. Lots of guys died. And in the end does America have any more liberty than Canada or Australia who didn’t fight at all? Maybe so I’m not arguing I’m just asking. Can you look at a guy and say he’s an American who fought for his liberty and anybody can see he’s a very different guy from a Canadian who didn’t? No by god you can’t and that’s that.” – Page 111
The main reason this passage stood out to me is for the fact that it’s the sort of thought that makes you think. It’s the truth, whether you want to admit it to yourself or not. I agree with Joe’s logic completely. What honor comes from dying? To die for your life is completely redundant, which is what I feel like Joe is trying to tell us. Even if you come back and live to tell the tale, you still aren’t “honored” for it. People can’t just look at you and say, “Oh, he’s so much better than I, he fought for his life and liberty”, you’re just another face in the crowd. America isn’t any better than the other nations who hadn’t fought, the only difference being that America risked and killed off its patriots: and for what purpose? For honor? For decency? It makes no sense to me… But to see that Joe understands my thought process is really refreshing. It’s interesting to see his take on the situation, the only difference is that he is actually experiencing being the living dead, while I only have my opinions and common sense to go off of.
“A guy can think of being dead a hundred years from now and he doesn’t mind it. But to think of being dead tomorrow morning and to be dead forever to be nothing but dust and stink in the earth is that liberty?” – Page 112
Again, he speaks the truth. Anyone can think of themselves as gone when the rest of the people they know are long passed and gone, but when it comes down to it, if you knew you’d be gone tomorrow, would you really be thinking “I better go out with my liberty and decency!”? I think not! Is liberty being taken out of the world? Is liberty taking up a space in a graveyard? Is the only proof of patriotism to your nation risking your life, if not dying for it? I don’t know about those guys, but to me, I think I do more good living for my country than dying for my country. If I die, than what do I leave behind? My corpse? I feel as though Joe feels the same as I do, if not stronger about it, due to his current state of being (if you can even call it a state of being).
“But what do the dead say? Did anybody ever come back from the dead any single one of millions who got killed did any one of them ever come back and say by god I’m glad I’m dead because the death is always better than dishonor?” – Page 115
Again, exactly right! How in the world do you go and tell me that I’m only honorable if I’m willing to die for you? Instead of telling ME that I’M dishonorable, why don’t you get your butt in gear and get out there and do it yourself! You can’t judge a man, or woman, for being dishonorable if you don’t even have an argument as to why it’s honorable in the first place! How do you know that when they fell to their death, or got blown to pieces, that they didn’t think “Oh crap, maybe I should have thought this through and LIVED for my country”? How do you know that? I feel that Joe is on the right track to where the country he lived in was really screwed up mentally. If a nation can have such a mentality to say, “Die or be dishonored”, how honorable of a country can they really be?
“Nobody but the dead know whether all these things people talk about are worth dying for or not. And the dead can’t talk. So the words about noble deaths and sacred blood and honor and such are all put into dead lips by grave robbers and fakes who have no right to speak for the dead.” –Page 115
This passage, out of all of them listed above, probably has to be the one that stood out to me the most. You don’t have the right to tell me what the dead think, because the dead don’t think: the dying and the living think. You’re on your death bed, which is in the middle of the battlefield, and you really think that you’re being honorable? You’re sick to think that you can speak for those that can’t speak for themselves. Trickery and deceit is what those people are all about. Just as Joe says, they’re all fakes and grave robbers, robbing the graves of the real story, of the real raw emotions that happened just before they sank to their death. Just because you think that that man over there with the missing limbs and splattered organs was worth killing off for YOUR sacred honor and liberty, does NOT make it right!