A Different View Of The Bomb

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A Different View Of The Bomb – Alas, Babylon Essay, Research Paper A Different View of the Bomb The menace of nuclear war has loomed over generations of Americans. Many different people react in many different ways to the threat of nuclear war, but one of the most common reactions is a passive sort of fear. This is because if nuclear war should begin, we are helpless to stop it or intervene in any way. This is one reason why the literary reactions to nuclear war have generally been quite different from the literary works about conventional types of warfare. The intrinsic realities of nuclear warfare remove most opportunities for bravery, romance, and camaraderie ? typical themes found in literature which affirms conventional war. This is why a completely despairative

perspective is far and away the most common among nuclear war literature. It is in this respect that Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank, differs from typical nuclear war literature: while Alas, Babylon takes a standpoint of despair towards nuclear war itself, it strongly affirms the human condition and its ability to adapt to and grow as a result of that war. It is in this way that Alas, Babylon spends nearly the whole story looking at post-nuclear war in a strongly affirmative perspective. As such, the author, Pat Frank, presents several easily recognizable themes of affirmation throughout Alas, Babylon. The first is growth, which as presented, is necessary for survival in the dangerous new world created by the war. This growth which Frank illustrates in many of the characters leads to

additional themes of affirmation. Courage is another theme in Alas, Babylon that becomes prevalent after the outbreak of war. Lastly, we see characters beginning to make sacrifices, small or large, for the good of others. Frank’s position in Alas, Babylon is one of affirmation to the human condition; to that end, growth is central major theme in this story. Growth in affirmative literature means a change for the better in a character or characters. A prime of example of this theme can be found in Randy Bragg, the story’s main character. Near the beginning of the story (p. 4-5), before the outbreak of the war, Randy is described as an aimless (though not unintelligent) young bachelor. “She [Florence Wechek] had watched Randolph graduate from bicycle to jalopy, vanish for a

number of years in college and law school, reappear in a convertible, vanish again during the Korean War, and finally come home for good when Judge Bragg and Mrs. Bragg were taken in the same year. Now here was Randy, one of the best known and most eligible young men in Tumucuan County, even if he did run around with Pistolville girls and drink too much, a ? what was it the French called it? ? a voyeur.” The aimlessness and lack of focus illustrated by the previous quote stand in stark contrast with Randy’s attitude later on, as his world becomes increasingly chaotic. Randy begins to take positions of leadership, guiding his friends and family through the new hardships brought on by nuclear war, as is stated on page 168: “Randy walked into the house, wondering a bit about

himself. Without being conscious of it, he had begun to give orders in the past few days. Even to the Admiral he had given orders. He had assumed leadership in the tiny community bound together by the water pipes leading from the artesian well. Since no one had seemed to resent it, he guessed it had been the proper thing to do. It was like ? well. it wasn’t the same, but it was something like commanding a platoon. When you had the responsibility, you also had the right to command.” Other characters undergo growth in this story as well. For instance, on page 169, Bill McGovern (another Fort Report citizen) initially reacts to his wife’s death by simply wanting to die: “Bill McGovern sat in the living room, starting out on the river. He had not bothered to dress or shave.