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In Billy Bishop Goes to War, analyze the play's attitudes towards heroism, patriotism, war, the military, and what Lady St. Helier calls " the Colonial mentality."

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Because Billy Bishop was a real person and famous Canadian war hero, John Gray carefully situates the fictionalized character within the social and historical context that ultimately made him a hero. In his initial ambivalence about serving in the military for England and naively expecting grand adventure, he seems to typify some essential element of Canada's Commonwealth status. Billy not only has to prove himself to himself and the officers, he has to represent the other Canadians as he aims to surpass his "authentic" English comrades. Together with his naivete, this gives him a certain recklessness that both aided his success as a pilot and probably encouraged unnecessary risk taking.

Acknowledging his debt to the war, the paradox of his position emerges. Fighting the good fight was both a burden and a blessing, for both the man and the nation. Both stepped up to show what they were made of; both paid a high price and lost their innocence.

Billy's success was based in turning himself...

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