Between the lines: international short stories of war by Pauletta Otis, Steven Kaplan

By Pauletta Otis, Steven Kaplan

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This story renders loss in poignant terms. Its central symbol, the maple leaf, represents the destruction of innocence and beauty by modern technological warfare. As individual maple trees are cut down in the process of "winning" the industrialization of China, so, too, the individual soldier is cut down in the process of "winning" a war. As Hu Wenfa Page 3 watches his friend die, the latter's face takes on "the colour of earth," an image of desolation. " Like Thomas Hardy's poem "The Man He Killed," these stories emphasize how war can arbitrarily separate those who normally belong together and can create enemies out of those toward whom we feel no natural enmity.

There was someone else on the floor of the jeep, but it wasn't easy to know what could be going on inside him since he was blindfolded, beastlike and silent. A fuzz of dust rose behind them, a smoke wake which wavered and grew pink at the edges. Irrelevant ditches and unimportant potholes in the road made the jeep jump, while fields spread their arms out to infinity and gave themselves up to a twilight that was fuddled with forgetfulness and gentleness and something so far away, so far away, so dreamlike until all of a sudden and unexpectedly a strange thought jumped into his head and would not budge.

Apart from which, as far as he himself was concerned he did not have the least objection to going off to some place where he could see human beings, but this was a matter of principle, sheer principle. And then another soldier also came and sat down beside the driver, since there was some job which could not be done until now in the absence of transport. He was not given this additional objective of accompanying the prisoner. And that was the way they would pass through the town, Spandau in front and prisoner behind.

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