Spooky, Traveller in Actual Combat film Footage...

 

...this is weird, my fellow mates from the 'Nam insist that I am in several combat scenes here; especially starting at 1:30 minutes in, and also 7:00 and 9:00 at the Tuy Hoa assault....this is all very odd to me. Of course the worst of it is off camera, and before, but still...it is different to see yourself firing away up on the Cambodian-Laotian border, the green mountains alive with enemy wanting to kill you...and visa versa. Odd indeed.

 

I remember all of this; if I wasn't in the actual camera frame sometimes, I was there nonetheless.

 

I have tried to avoid talking too much about the Nam, but, yesterday our old radio man, humping that PRC 40 Radio everywhere, called me again from Colorado insisting I look at this video sent to me by Steve, our old Medic.

 

Sigh. It's me but it is not me.

 

Faulkner is simply wrong when he writes his most famous quote: "The past is never dead. It's not even past." 

 

I tell them, and other soldiers now suffering from PTSD that I counsel, "A different Place, a Different Time, a Different Person."

 

They say I'm wrong.

 

I don't know.

 

Maybe I don't need to know.

 

But here I am as I was.

 

Collecting bandeliers of ammo and dashing back to the front. Strange, foolhardy.

 

I wept yesterday when he remembered me as a..."natural, a good soldier."

 

Humph!

 

Best Wishes, Traveller

 

 

 

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Startlingly crude propaganda piece.

(#300031)

no knock meant on you Traveller, I'm just surprised to hear a piece of that vintage come off like so much Johnny Foreigner newsreel footage.

Nyoos...

(#300057)

You made your comment by editing and thus replacing mine. How did that happen?

 

Not that my comment was destined for the ages, mind you.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Sorry Wags,

(#300061)

I guess I must have used my super-mod-powers for evil. 

 

Sorry about that!

Propaganda doesn't age well

(#300033)
HankP's picture

if you look back at any of the stuff put out during the 20th century, you can see that once you're removed from the emotional underpinnings it doesn't make a lot of sense. Some people learn from that and apply that to the propaganda being put out now, some don't and let their emotions carry them away.

 

I blame it all on the Internet

A Different Time, A Different Feel...But is It? Was It?

(#300043)

...Nooys, I take nothing you say as criticism, but also we should be mindful that criticism classically refers to critical thinking, something I don't ever mind seeing...:

 

Another meaning of criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature, artwork, film, and social trends (see the article links below). The goal of this type of criticism is to understand the possible meanings of cultural phenomena, and the context in which they take shape. In so doing, the attempt is often made to evaluate how cultural productions relate to other cultural productions, and what their place is within a particular genre, or a particular cultural tradition.

 

I would go on with an analysis of criticism, but this is where we really are...Johnny foreigner? Or really, as presented, Johnny Freedom?

 

I recently saw on CNN the one hour special on Staff Sergeant Clinton Romesha winning the Medal of Honor for combat in Afghanistan...and there was actual video from the fight....and interviews from survivors which was different, but, thf footage all seemed the same to me, being over run is being overrun be it Dien Bien Phu, Dak To, or  Outpost Keating in the Kamdesh district of Nuristan in Afghanistan, or, for that matter, the Roman Legionnaires at Tannenburg Wald in 9AD...

 

For people there, it's always the same...the terror, the fear, the confusion, the killing and dying...the question presented by you is, How terrible was it as a Propaganda piece?

 

In 1966 I'm not sure it was propaganda in the United States or in South Viet Nam. It was a different time, a different mind set, good was the goal though, as seen from now or 1970, was an impossible illusion.

 

But how different was this, The Big Picture, from CIA agents with their Northern Afghan Allies galloping down on horseback towards Kabul? Galloping with a handful of freedom and good will and woman's rights for all?

 

I am not sure I see the difference. Propaganda is propaganda, as were, and as were intended, Ceasar's Commentaries from Gaul.

 

Yes, from today we were innocents....Aren't all citizen armies?

 

Best Wishes, Traveller

Citizen armies? Today?

(#300044)
mmghosh's picture

AFAIK, Coalition forces are professional all-volunteer armies.  Maybe true when there was a draft.

I Thought About Using That Phrase, Citizen Armies...(!)

(#300045)

 

...mine was to a certain degree, and much less so now. However, if it is not a Citizen Army at least at some theoretical level, as the US Military Forces at least Nominally see themselves now, then you have a Mercenary Army and that, we should agree, is a beast of a different color.

 

The Roman Armies graduated form Citizen participants, Marius and Garcius Brothers to professional armies under Caesar and Augustus and all the  early Caesars to Mercenary Armies from Julian forward.

 

These armies lead to different results.

 

The Indian Army is certainly professional, but it is, on the sliding scale, more Citizen Army than Mercenary, wouldn't you agree?

 

Best Wishes, Traveller

 

 

I'd say that professional volunteer armies are

(#300046)
mmghosh's picture

not citizen armies.  It is a secure job (viewed purely as a job) in most countries.  More mercenary than citizen, though.  Its also a way of getting right of abode in many parts of the world (though not Gurkhas in Britain, I note).

 

Here we have the somewhat ridiculous (British-inspired) concept of "martial races".

I Must Seriously Disagree, that border between Citizen/Soldier

(#300047)

...has not been breached as you seem to feel. Certainly any US Soldier would not agree and would resent any idea that they were less Citizen and more Soldier, abstract and free floating, salable to the highest bidder.

 

(though US ex-military Contractors are an entirely different question, {they do identify with being US, but at a pretty high price that may push this category further down this scale}).

 

I think this is true for British troops, French...or Indian. No Indian Captain or NCO would go to work for the Pakistani Army...after all it is only a job.

 

Just not going to happen. Our Armies are Nationalist and very much consider themselves Citizens, even premiere citizens, of the countries they serve.

 

Best Wishes, Traveller

I agree.

(#300052)

The professional soldier creates problems, especially in the superpower - but I wouldn't equate them with mercenaries. They are, in countries that restrict soldiery to the citzens, and I suppose where non citizens are rewarded and motivated by the gift of citizenship, citizen soldiers.

 

The French of course have their mercenaries in the foreign legion, recently busy in Mali. The Brits still have the Gurkha.

I would be the last

(#299963)

To romanticize war, but I do think it's true that you've been through a crucible of manhood that those of us who haven't been in combat will never see. Whatever nightmares the experience left you with, you know you made it through. Because you're here.

 

I can't say I envy you because I suspect I would wilt under such circumstances. I have many kinds of courage but not that kind.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

As A Rule

(#299965)

I cannot say that, as a group, combat veterans are any wiser than the rest of us. I have met wise veterans and veterans who were idiots. 

 

I like Traveller. He is one of my favorite characters here. I don't think he's representative though. 

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

War yields wisdom?

(#299984)

I didn't make such a claim, nor would I. But people who have gone to war have sometimes been placed in a position where they find out whether they are able to perform in support of their comrades under mortal threat. I, and I assume you, will never know that.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Crucible of Manhood

(#299985)

What is that? You should come out a wiser man out of such a crucible, or not? What does it mean, otherwise?

 

Some people hold up better under extreme pressure, for sure. Is this manhood? What about women who hold up under pressure? Also, surviving a war is not the same as holding up your end. Maybe you did, maybe you just got lucky.

 

And why war? Firefighters run into burning buildings and help their comrades under mortal threat. So do police and coast guard rescue personnel. You don't need war to prove you can keep it together. I think you do idealize it.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

This is a silly argument

(#299992)

But crucible just means an extreme test. You wouldn't argue that war doesn't test you, would you? And if you're arguing that such a test must yield wisdom, aren't you arguing with yourself? Okay then, argue away.

 

"You don't need war to prove you can keep it together." Did I say that? Again, a wild reading.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Manhood?

(#299995)

Crucible of Manhood.

 

Obviously war is a test. But a test of manhood? Define a test of manhood in such a way that the man who passes it is unwise.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

So...

(#300002)

Manhood = Wisdom? Ummm... okay.

 

I took the test of manhood to be a test of courage. (Also a bit sexist, thought not quite as sexist as your formulation.) Believe me, you can be brave and unwise. In fact, it probably helps.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

As traditionally viewed, yes

(#299997)
HankP's picture

you can argue that it's not a good idea in concept or execution (and I'd probably agree), but that's the way it's been seen for thousands of years.

 

I blame it all on the Internet

Right

(#299998)

And war has been romanticized for thousands of years too. 

 

Wag uses a traditional romantic formulation and then claims he isn't, or something. 

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

I give up

(#300023)

Imagine I said whatever, I'm too tired to disabuse you.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

Speaking Of Which. . .

(#300000)
M Scott Eiland's picture

. . .the nation engaged in one of those pesky moments of romanticizing heroism in wartime today:

"At 6 a.m., Oct. 3, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating in Kamdesh District, Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, came under complex attack by an enemy force estimated at 400 fighters. The fighters occupied the high ground on all four sides of the combat outpost and initiated the attack with concentrated fire from B10 recoilless rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, known as RPGs, DSHKA heavy machine gun fire, mortars, and small-arms fire.

Staff Sgt. Clinton L. Romesha displayed extraordinary heroism through a day-long engagement in which he killed multiple enemy fighters, recovered fallen Soldiers, and led multiple recovery, resupply, and counterattack operations.

At initial contact, Romesha pushed to the Long Range Advanced Scout Surveillance vehicle battle position 1, or LRAS 1, under heavy enemy fire to ensure that the MK-19 automatic grenade launcher and Spc. Zachary S. Koppes were in the proper sector of fire and engaging enemy targets. After ensuring that Koppes was suppressing enemy activity in his sector, Romesha moved to the barracks and grabbed an MK-48 machine gun and an assistant gunner, Spc. Justin J. Gregory.

Moving through an open and uncovered avenue that was suppressed with a barrage of RPGs and small-arms fire, Romesha grabbed a limited amount of cover behind a generator and engaged a machine gun team that was on the high ground to the west. After destroying this team, he acquired an additional machine gun team that was firing an overwhelming amount of fire into the LRAS 2 from the switchbacks. As he was engaging, an RPG struck the generator and knocked him onto his assistant gunner. He quickly assessed Gregory and determined that he was fine. Not noticing his own wounds, Romesha re-engaged the enemy with his weapon system until an additional Soldier arrived to man the machine gun, at which point Romesha moved back through the open avenue to the barracks to assemble an additional team. Once at the barracks, Spc. Thomas C. Rasmussen noticed Romesha’s wounds and provided first aid.

Romesha assembled a five-man team and instructed them to load up on ammunition and crew-served weapons. While they were preparing, he again moved out to check on Koppes, grabbing the only accessible sniper rifle along the way, a Dragunov belonging to the Afghan National Army. Despite having only a basic knowledge with the foreign weapon, Romesha engaged multiple enemy positions on the north face, including a machine gun nest and sniper position. While continuing to expose himself to heavy enemy fire, Romesha engaged the enemy positions until they were no longer effective.

After engaging those targets, he moved back to the link up with his team. Enroute to that location, he saw three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s outer perimeter and were moving toward the laundry trailer. With a sense of calmness that inspired his Soldiers, Romesha engaged and destroyed the three targets with the Dragunov rifle and moved to the tactical operations center to give 1st Lt. Andrew L. Bunderman a report confirming that enemy forces were indeed moving inside the wire.

Identifying the essential need for ammunition, Romesha planned and led a mission to secure the ammunition supply point. Under withering fire and multiple RPG strikes, Romesha pushed his team to secure the ammunition supply point. In an attempt to provide covering fire for his maneuvering forces, Romesha used an M-240B machine gun team to secure a stronghold at a sandbagged position. He then led the team to clear the area support group commander’s quarters, and once the building was clear, he solidified his position to provide multiple sectors of fire to suppress the high ground to the west and the south.

While an enemy fighter attempted to breach the wire near Romesha’s location, a member of his team was shot in the arm, so Romesha returned accurate M-4 fire and threw multiple hand grenades to destroy the enemy fighter. Romesha evacuated the casualty and returned to improve his position. In doing so, Romesha engaged targets and suppressed enemy forces to allow the remaining Soldiers at LRAS 2 and Truck 1 battle positions an opportunity to break contact back to friendly forces. Romesha coordinated and led his men to clear the ammunition supply point and then set up positions to secure it. Once the ammunition supply point was secure, Romesha determined that the entry control point was the next obstacle that needed to be reinforced, because it was the only remaining enemy avenue of approach to the tactical operations center and aid station from the northwest.

As 3rd Platoon provided a base of fire to cover the assault on the entry control point building, Romesha led his team to secure and reinforce the entry control point building using an M-203 and a squad automatic weapon. After the entry control point was secured, enemy fighters engaged with a new intensity, sending a barrage of RPGs and B10 rounds into the building. Romesha informed the tactical operations center that the rounds were originating from the village of Urmul and the Afghan National Police checkpoint directly to the front of the entry control point. Calling grid coordinates to the enemy locations, Romesha enabled the critical 120mm mortars and air support to drop in Urmul and the checkpoint. As a result, more than 30 enemy forces were destroyed and Romesha and his men were able to hold the entry control point. Romesha’s reporting and ability to direct air and indirect fire assets allowed friendly forces to gain and maintain this critical objective.

After receiving reports that there were still friendly forces at LRAS 2, Romesha provided an overwhelming amount of covering fire to allow Sgt. Bradley D. Larson, Spc. Ty Carter, and Pfc. Stephan L. Mace, who was seriously injured, to withdraw from a previously pinned down location. Once the three Soldiers arrived at the aid station, 3rd Platoon was instructed to maneuver and support Romesha’s next objective: to recover personnel killed in action at the LRAS 2 vehicle battle position. Due to heavy fire, 3rd Platoon was unable to maneuver, but Romesha decided to push anyway without the necessary suppressive and covering fire. Under overwhelming enemy small-arms fire and RPG fire, with little support or covering fire, Romesha’s team pushed through 100 meters of enemy fire with few covered positions along the way. Upon arriving at the objective, they evacuated the bodies of two American heroes, Sgt. Justin T. Gallegos and Sgt. Vernon W. Martin. This maneuver, with great risk to himself and his Soldiers, prevented the enemy fighters from taking the American bodies off the combat outpost.

Throughout the day, Romesha understood the risks he was taking, and he knowingly put his life in danger to save the lives of his Soldiers and repel a numerically superior enemy force. Romesha was personally responsible for killing more than 10 enemy fighters with either a Dragunov, an M-4 or an MK-48, and an estimated 30 anti-Afghanistan forces with indirect fire and air support. He also led his men in killing a minimum of five others beyond that. Romesha recovered his fallen Soldiers and preserved the lives of several more. His heroic actions allowed B Troop to reconsolidate on the combat outpost and enabled him to lead the counterattack that secured Combat Outpost Keating."

Glad you're still with us to enjoy the thanks of a grateful nation, Sergeant Romesha. May you live long and prosper.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Courage is not always a virtue.

(#300006)
mmghosh's picture

Perhaps the poorly educated, ill-trained and partly literate Afghans equipped with non-standard ordnance engaging extensively trained American troops equipped with the latest weapons systems, air cover and surveillance systems could be regarded as courageous, too.

 

I believe they were officially regarded as courageous when they engaged similarly with the Russians thirty years ago. IIRC there was an Olympics boycott in their support. The US President of the time certainly thought so.  

It is interesting how the passage of time turns a friend into an enemy.

Not Hard To Understand

(#300009)
M Scott Eiland's picture

We were at the verge of war with France less than twenty years after they helped us win the American Revolution--for very good reasons involving the French attacking US shipping and shanghaiing its citizens into its naval forces (in fairness, the Brits were doing this as well). Enemy is as enemy does--and I'm more than happy to advocate the obliteration of those who turn on us.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

How About This One?

(#299996)
M Scott Eiland's picture

In any event, anyone who takes this test--much less takes it to its conclusion--has pretty well proven themselves unwise.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

Wags Was Just Being Nice to Me....(essential Bagage)

(#299986)

...there was a time where service to one's country was almost a requirement to citizenship.

 

In a Heinleinian world of the future that would obviously be the case.

 

I actually read the Ending of Conrad's Lord Jim to be able to post...something.

 

I might posit this:

 

Whatever we think we are, we may not be. They are essential fictions that fill out our lives and give hooks to hang ourselves on.

 

1. I am smart. Being the first born and unduly loved by my mother who venerated smarts...what else could I think about myself?

 

2.  I was a coward, as proved by the fact that I was always afraid in Viet Nam, (which may only really gone to prove the point that I had minimum  smarts as I hoped).

 

Seeing this video some 45 years later of myself...remembering being put in for medals and whatnot, maybe all these years I've been wrong, pressing myself over too many lines Lord Jim-like to prove....maybe I wasn't what I made myself out to be.

 

Baggage is  just  baggage, I'm not too smart, (though not dumb either), and, I was....as people tell me, brave, (or at least adequate, even if my insides quivered and are quivering. This Friday video to me was a revelation).

 

A Good Life, I wish this on both of thou's.

 

Best Wishes, Traveller (with much to think about)

 

My estimation

(#299994)

of my own intelligence and talent goes down the older I get too. I'm happy to have a bit of the narcissism evaporate away.

 

Wasn't everyone in Vietnam scared? Surely that is not the measure of a coward.

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

I Frequently Feel That Military Service is a Negative Correlate

(#299999)

...with intelligence and really they are a less appropriate population to set public policy, though they as a generalized group feel otherwise and and they feel superior in this regard. They are simply wrong, (and as too often is the case, they are simply drinking too much).

 

If you went in smart, I think you come out smart.

 

As to Manhood? This is a real question and maybe is a real necessity....the problem being late teen men do need direction and discipline (as a group that are far up on the crazy scale, as was I), and the military as a social institution has and continues to provide this well.

 

But so could an expanded Peace Corps. A true failure of American in policy terms as well as a wide spread benefit for society in general...also (!) which is better to have coming home? A trained person adept at killing and the attendant stresses or, a Peace Corp volunteer? This is a serious question.

 

War...what can one say? A million fascinating words have been written...I'm fairly sure I will write some more thousands of words myself adding to this ongoing total, some of which hopefully will be moderating fascinating.

 

This is a long term topic....lol

 

Best Wishes, Traveller

 

 

I don't agree, Trav

(#300022)

A young dumb guy is a young dumb guy whether he's in the military, hangs dry-wall or is starting college.  I've run into the whole range in the military and can't say there's any correlation at all, negative or positive.  As for a role in public policy, sure they think they are entitled to a greater opinion.  Show me a group of people who don't.

In the medical community, death is known as Chuck Norris Syndrome. 

Service

(#299990)

You don't need to fight in a war to serve your country. The more popular this notion, the more of a problem we have.

 

If you fight a war and come back and then run a bank that sells AAA-rated mortgage-backed junk bonds, does it really matter that you served your country? You are disserving it now.

 

I think you serve your country by accounting for the greater good in all your acts. If you simply take a year or two in a combat zone, maybe you did it to serve your country (many men certainly did it for that reason), but maybe you just like high-risk sports, or have darker motives.

 

Don't get me wrong. I think all combat veterans, regardless of their motives, should get free health care for life and other considerations like the GI Bill. They deserve the benefit of the doubt.

 

But service to the country should be a far larger concept than military service in wartime.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Funny how some people can't let go of the past and some

(#299989)

can't get away from it fast enough. 

 

I saw an interesting study correlating 11+ exam results with combat mortality for 1st world war Scotish soldiers. Turns out the smarter you are the more likely you are to get killed in a war.

 

Spike Milligan was also an artillery man. His books about his time in Africa and Italy are well worth a read.

 

Are people in the US familliar with Spike?

Fascinating.

(#299947)
mmghosh's picture

And instructive how the narrator transforms a bunch of South Asian peasants into an "enemy".

 

My father served with the UN "peacekeeping" between the 2 Vietnam forces in the late 1950s -early 1960s.  

 

What would have happened if a small South East Asian nation had been allowed to go Communist in 1965, rather than 1975?  Would our world have changed?

Well, That's the Question...The Necessary War? a Book Posits

(#299950)

...this question.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Vietnam-Necessary-War-Reinterpretation-Disastrous/...

 

For me, the war in 1966 was...important and winnable. We were, I think somewhat close to the people. Later, mid-1967 I was writing for Stars and Stripes with on site war photography (and once UPI), and when I saw with even the 101st that they suddenly had a base, went out at 7am to shoot people, received beer and pizza at 12:00, then went back to clearing operations and returned to base at 5:00pm...the war was over. 

 

You can't make war this way (in my opinion). If you're going to do it, you have to do it.

 

I think the world would be radically different...it really hasn't worked out that badly, (unless you were a Cambodian), but I am still, almost 50 years later too close to (being there again)...to even venture an opinion.

 

Best Wishes, Traveller

 

Edit: PS see this idea of Lind's...

 

if it allowed South Vietnam to go down the drain without a fight in 1965, especially so close on the heels of the Bay of Pigs and the construction of the Berlin Wall. In fact, the eventual victory of Moscow's North Vietnamese clients did lead to a more aggressive Soviet foreign policy, culminating in the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

 

Well!

 

Winning can maybe be the real problem.

Ask The Soviet Union

(#299980)
M Scott Eiland's picture

Although in fairness due to geography if nothing else they *were*--as Russia remains--both a European and an Asian nation, and Europe definitely owes Asia and Africa an apology for introducing the political Ebola that is Marxist Communism to them.

The universe may well have been created without a point--that doesn't imply that we can't give it one.

I don't agree with Lind

(#299955)

It was not a necessary war, and it was not fought in a way that was consistent with stated goals.

 

Or, rather, it was not a necessary war to "stop communism". On the contrary, the war lent credence around the third world to the notion that the communists were the good guys, while the Americans were just another war happy empire lusting for control of the world's resources.

 

This narrative lives on to this day. Just as it was fading during the Clinton presidency, bush showed up and set the clock back 30 years with Iraq.

 

Afghanistan had nothing to do with Vietnam. A Soviet puppet regime was toppled under orders from Carter, and the Soviets thought it was imperative to restore it. You will note that Afghanistan had a Soviet border.

 

America was fortunate that Soviet hypocrisy was even worse, while living standards in the Soviet block were outright pathetic. But the country could have held the moral high ground quite easily without Vietnam, and failed to do so. It was closer than it should have been.

 

The only net beneficiaries that I can see were the arms makers and other war profiteers. It was bad for Vietnam and bad for the US.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

"No Exit," Some Roads Seem to Have a Terrible Inevitability...

(#299957)

 

...about them. Apologies to Satre`, but No Exit, exactly.

 

If the American Delegation led by that Great Peacemaker, Woodrow Wilson, hadn't refused to see Ho Che Minh and at least acknowledge the rightful Nationalistic Desires that he as a Paris busboy represented; if Harry Truman and Eisenhower hadn't backed the French in their desires to reassert their colonial Empire, (with the Connivance of China's KMT), if, if irony of ironies, if Lyndon Bayes Johnson from within the Senate hadn't refused US Airpower Aide, just laying off shore to help the French at Dien Bien Phu; if John Kennedy hadn't been assassinated in November 1963...

 

Sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh, sigh...

 

Then I would not have been killing fellow human beings in June of 1966.

 

Best Wishes, Traveller

A Fun Footnote or Summary to "No Exit..." Hell is Other People

(#299958)

Three damned souls, Garcin, Inès, and Estelle are brought to the same room in hell by a mysterious Valet. They had all expected medieval torture devices to punish them for eternity, but instead find a plain room furnished in the style of the Second French Empire. None of them will admit the reason for their damnation: Garcin says that he was executed for being a pacifist, while Estelle insists that a mistake has been made.

 

Inès, however, demands that they all stop lying to themselves and confess to their crimes. She refuses to believe that they all ended up in the room by accident and soon realizes that they have been placed together to make each other miserable. Garcin suggests that they try to leave each other alone, but Inès starts to sing about an execution and Estelle wants to find a mirror. Inès tries to seduce Estelle by offering to be her "mirror" and tell her everything she sees, but ends up frightening her instead.

 

After arguing they decide to confess to their crimes so they know what to expect from each other. Garcin cheated and mistreated his wife; Inès seduced her cousin's wife while living with them; and Estelle had an affair and then killed the resulting child. Despite their revelations they continue to get on each other's nerves. Garcin finally gives in to Estelle's attempts to seduce him, which drives Inès crazy. Garcin begs Estelle to tell him he is not a coward for attempting to flee his country during wartime. While she complies, Inès tells him that Estelle is just agreeing with him so she can be with a man. This causes Garcin to attempt an escape. After trying to open the door repeatedly, it suddenly opens wildly, but he is unable to leave. He says that he will not be saved until Inès has faith in him. She refuses, saying it's obvious he's a coward, and promising to make him miserable forever. Estelle, infuriated by her treatment of Garcin, tries to kill Inès, stabbing her repeatedly. As they are all already dead, this attack does nothing - bemused, Inès even stabs herself. Shocked at the absurdity of his fate, Garcin concludes, "hell is other people" - not torture devices or physical punishment, but the torment of those he can't escape. The play ends with the three joining in prolonged laughter before resigning themselves to spending the rest of eternity together.

 

Devilish Laughter...and to all a good Night!

 

Traveller