To what extent is Jack the hero of Bird Essay

Submitted By CarmeloAnthony1245
Words: 1112
Pages: 5

To what extent is Jack the “hero” of the novel?

Reasons for Jack being the hero:
Honest tommy= reader can relate to common man
Name sounds heroic
Son dies. Reader feels empathy
He is selfless
He dies and is a martyr
Naïve thinks the war will be done by Christmas

Reasons for Stephen and Elizabeth not being the hero:
Officer class, hard to relate to
Does not bond/like/appreciate his men
Has affair with Isabelle= is a sin + shows darker side
Incident with Lisette
Incident with prostitute
Elizabeth represents us and our naivety of the war= we are not the heroes

The novel Birdsong, written by Sebastian Faulks, is split into seven parts and follows the point of view of three characters over the course of these seven parts whilst an omniscient narrator dictates the story. Birdsong is about WW1 and its effects on the protagonist of the novel, Stephen Wraysford, as well as his granddaughter Elizabeth Benson who attempts to find out more about the war in a more contemporary time during the late 1970s. Jack Firebrace is the third character the novel follows, he is considered to be an ‘honest Tommy’ as opposed to Stephen who is officer class. Questioning whether Jack is the hero of the novel first of all asks the question of what the three main characters in the novel represent. Elizabeth represents people of the late 20th and still applies for people in the early 21st century; people who are naïve and either do not care or know very little about the war. In short Elizabeth represents us, the reader, and therefore Elizabeth is definitely not the hero of the novel. Birdsong follows Stephen for the longest duration of time in the novel, which would suggest he would be the hero. However over the course of the novel, dark elements of his character is exposed leaving the question of him being the hero unanswered. Jack represents a common soldier and Faulks attempts to convey to the reader that these sorts of men are the heroes of the war. Even though Jack shows good qualities throughout the novel, is it the flaws in Stephen’s character that make Jack the hero or is he heroic enough himself?

The first time we meet Jack in the novel is in part 2 of the novel in 1916 France where the war is in full flow. Faulks opens the passage by focusing on Jack, ‘JACK FIREBRACE LAY forty-five feet underground with several hundred thousand tons of France above his face.’ This introduction is used to jar and unnerve the reader that has up to now follow the story of Stephen in his pre war, ‘relatively’ easy life. Jack is depicted as a hero instantly as he is shown to be in an impossible situation, forty-five feet underground. The opening of part 1 of the novel focuses on the scenery first and then we meet Stephen, however in this part of the novel, the most important thing for the reader to know about is Jack and therefore Faulks could be showing that Jack is in fact the hero rather than Stephen. The reader instantly forms a connection with Jack he is faced with what seems to be a hell like situation yet he still continues to tunnel on, which his job requires him to do and this determination makes the reader instantly admire Jack.

When we first meet Stephen it is in pre war France 1910 where he is living and staying Rene and Isabelle Azaire. Initially Faulks portrays Stephen to be a bright, young man with the potential to be the hero of the novel. However as part 1 of the novel progresses cracks in Stephen’s, thought to be perfect character, are exposed. Stephen’s affair with Isabelle shows Stephen to be weak as his desire for her, a married woman, overcomes. This act is also a sin and at the time of the offense would have been frowned upon greatly. Furthermore this act is far from heroic and instead portrays a character that has flaws like any normal person, which draws the reader away from admiring him and pushes the reader towards resenting him. Stephen’s failure as a hero could be argued to be the reason why Jack is the hero, for in the opening of