Testament of Youth 5/8

Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain is a story that follows a wealthy middle-class lady through her years in college, War World I, and politics. There is an intentional focus on her experiences as a woman trying to make it in a man’s world and build her own sense of purpose. Her early years are self-absorb, which leads to her ignorance of life outside of her world. This environment was created by her isolation and her father’s belief that a women’s goal is to get married. Due to this sheltered life and inability to imagine other’s life, she is shocked by the poor food choices when she goes to Oxford. Furthermore, when she becomes a V.A.D. nurse, she realizes her inability to boil an egg is an embarrassment. “Among other facts of life, my expensive education had omitted to teach me the prosaic but important essentials of egg-boiling, and the Oxford cookery class had triumphantly failed to repair the omissions” (165). As a lady of privilege, Vera didn’t have to worry about where or how her food arrived. “To me, whom meals had hitherto appeared as though by clockwork and the routine of a house had seemed to be worked by some invisible mechanism” (165) makes the reader think that Vera never walked into a kitchen or went into town to interact with other people. Her sheer revelation of food is also a sign of her growth throughout the war.

Her novel is about change that you can and not control. While she learns to boil an egg and cook for herself and fight for women’s rights, she cannot control war or death.