What light does Vera Brittain shed on the origins of World War I?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Vera Brittain, the author of Testament of Youth, sheds light on World War I in several different ways. As a young woman living in England at the outbreak of the war, her entire life is directly impacted by it. Her brother and his friend, with whom she had a romance, both leave for the front. Brittain also volunteers as a nurse and witnesses horror and tragedy at the front line as she tends to wounded soldiers.

One important aspect of World War I which Brittain sheds light on is how the young people of England and the other nations involved in the conflict were impacted. Brittain was a young, promising woman, planning to enter Somerville College in Oxford. She was romantically involved with Roland, her brother Edward's friend, and seemed to have everything a bright young woman would want. But, as the war begins to brew, it starts to take all of that away. Roland and Edward head off to fight a war that was particularly brutal and bloody, and Vera, feeling as though she has to do something, volunteers as a nurse and bears witness to the war's violence and horror, constantly worrying about Roland and her brother.

Brittain also conveys how violent the war was. She chronicles her experiences treating wounded and dying soldiers in horrifying detail, and the fact that so many of them were very young adds to the tragedy. Roland, Edward, and some of their friends were all killed in the war, leaving Brittain to return home and grapple with the devastating aftermath of the war.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial