Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

No Man’s Land

No Man’s Land. Constantly shifting zone between the trenches of the opposing combatants on the French battlefront. This realm of fearsome devastation represents the nightmarish consequences of political blindness and the misapplication of technology. Soldiers struggling here face elemental agony, terror, and exhaustion, and George is transformed by this experience. Upon returning to London, he is appalled by the ignorance and superficiality of those who have not seen the war at first hand. The intense bitterness shared by George and the novel’s narrator is a pessimistic response to the naïve or egotistical optimism of Great Britain’s prewar generation. Although George learns to value comradeship in the trenches, he is also constantly reminded of the diminished value of human life in this environment. The tremendous strain of staying alive finally makes his life intolerable. No Man’s Land is a place of sudden fragmentation of life, of Nature, of architecture, and, finally, of George’s sanity, and its image dominates the novel as an emblem of the mindless suffering generated by human stupidity.

Hill 91

Hill 91. Hotly contested area of No Man’s Land marked by extreme devastation. George notes that possession of such areas is largely a matter of “prestige.”


*Dorsetshire. Rural county of southwest England that George and Elizabeth Winterbourne...

(The entire section is 591 words.)