Virginia Woolf

I enjoy the various examples Woolf gives to provoke thoughts on the war, like the Wilfred Owen lines or letters from soldiers in the beginning. Her doing this aids tremendously in dissecting sentiments towards war, and where those sentiments may stem from depending on who you are. She writes, "let us then refer the question of the rightness or wrongness of war to those who make morality their profession - the clergy" (19). She goes on to say that they (clergymen) are also of two minds, and no singular opinion or answer prevails on the topic of war. She does include that one Bishop of London claims that "the real danger to the peace of the world today were the pacifists. Bad as war was dishonour was far worse." Another Bishop was a self-proclaimed pacifist. Woolf highlights that there is not a job, role, or indicator of position in life that directs peoples' will regarding war. She identifies comparisons and examples like these throughout. 

Even though I agree that no group of people is of one mind because they are a men, women, or clergymen - I do see how certain patriarchal standards and norms very easily, and even involuntarily, affect the perception of war in the West. The Bishop's quote shows a common sentiment, that even if war is awful, the idea of dishonoring oneself or one's country is worse. To me, that idea is enough to ignite a flame within a large part of the population, because in society there exists this unspoken rule that one must prove themselves, often times physically, to be considered a man. If we apply that to an entire country, then it can be expected that people will want to prove themselves, even more so for those who are patriotic. Often times, that flame is fanned by people of higher status who want to go to war for unseen reasons, whether for financial gain or political agenda, though that is not always the case, it does exist. Regardless, going to war still calls for young people to answer a call which could subject them to injury, death, and a myriad of other consequences of war. I can see how people might see where they come from as an extension of themsleves. If the heteronormative standards that an entire society abides by calls for men to be protectors, to defend their honor, then going to war can certainly fall under that category. In addition to societal expectations at play, war is historic and extends so far into the past that people see it as a necessity of life, one which has always existed. Woolf's book has reminded me of just how layered this argument on war truly is.