In Gods Go Begging, how does time change in war and prison?
Make sure to quote the text and closely analyze the metaphors and symbols, the tone and/or feeling of each scene, demonstrating their connection to your claims and arguments.
Time slows down in the prison scenes of the novel, and while the body is inert, the mind travels. Véa writes of men in prison:
Their beds were geared for long distances, for trips to Alpha Centauri and the Sombrero Galaxy. Everyone doing time knew you had to sleep away the years in a state of suspended animation in order to reach your destination alive. (53)
Véa uses a metaphor comparing time in prison to time spent suspended in the darkness of space. The prisoners' beds are compared to space ships, and prisoners who hope to get out of jail spend their time in a state of inert waiting for their dark journey to end. While they are in jail, they spend time dreaming and sleeping. Véa writes:
For most prisoners, the bed, powered by a decent pillow, would merely calculate your good time credits automatically and wake you up when your time in the stir was done. (53)
This passage also uses a metaphor in which the bed is compared to an alarm clock that will wake up the men after they have spent their prison time dreaming. The mood of these passages is one of dread and waiting.
In war, however, time speeds up so that all of life can be compressed into one second. The protagonist, Jesse Pasadoble, fought in Vietnam. He recalls how fear can make one moment seem like an eternity. Véa writes:
A year and a half of incredible fear in the highlands of Vietnam had been transformed into an almost anguished love of the living, intact moment, the moment that can never be possessed. (45)
In other words, from living with constant fear while fighting in Vietnam, Jesse comes to regard each moment of life as a precious eternity. Véa implies that fear makes Jesse treasure each moment as if it held all the mystery and majesty of life. In war, time is sped up so that the soldier tries to experience all of life in one moment.