Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


Anopopei. Imaginary island in the South Pacific on which the novel is set. The island’s dense jungle terrain is itself almost a character in the novel—a constant reminder of how primal Nature is when seen in the raw. From the novel’s earliest sections, Mailer uses the jungle to remind readers that this is also true of human beings. One of the foot soldiers thinks that the jungle looks like the Garden of Eden, and there is, in some sense, a parallel. However, this is a post-Fall Eden, not Paradise. Anopopei’s jungle is primal, a force unto itself, and it stirs some ancient, atavistic recognition in the men who try to survive it.

Another soldier feels a deep excitement, “as if he were witnessing creation”—a feeling that seems to typify the soldiers’ reactions to the jungle. Their experience in the jungle is instinctive, pre-verbal, almost visceral in many cases. The experience precedes what the rational mind can codify, what the reasonable mind can articulate.

Not even a mind as reasonable and as fine as that of General Cummings can quite put into words what the jungle means; however, he comes closest. He is obsessed with bringing order to the primal world in which he finds himself, ordering the land cleared and a world of officers’ tents set out in a neat alignment of ninety-degree designs, only to have the clearing overgrown in a few days or to have an unexpected storm play havoc with his plans and...

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The Naked and the Dead Historical Context

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Declaration of War against Japan, December 8, 1941. Published by Gale Cengage

The Great Depression
The stock market crash in 1929 triggered the Great Depression, the most severe economic crisis in...

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The Naked and the Dead Social Concerns

The Naked and the Dead centers on preparations for the invasion of Anopopei, an island held by the Japanese during the latter stages...

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The Naked and the Dead Compare and Contrast

1948: In the aftermath of World War II Japan is occupied by American forces. American occupation arms to put in place a...

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The Naked and the Dead Topics for Further Study

Look up the history of the battles between the American and Japanese armies that took place on the Philippine Islands. Were any similar to...

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The Naked and the Dead Literary Precedents

Mailer has acknowledged that much of his characterization in The Naked and the Dead derives from Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos....

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The Naked and the Dead Adaptations

A movie was made of The Naked and the Dead in 1958, but it was not well received by critics. It is a stolid film, directed by Raoul...

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The Naked and the Dead Media Adaptations

The Naked and the Dead was adapted for the screen by Denis Sanders, in a movie directed by Raoul Walsh and produced by RKO Studios in...

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The Naked and the Dead What Do I Read Next?

The Thin Red Line (1962) was written by James Jones and focuses on the pointlessness of war in a...

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The Naked and the Dead Bibliography and Further Reading

Bufithis, Philip H., Norman Mailer, Frederick Ungar, 1978.

Dempsey, David, review, in...

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The Naked and the Dead Bibliography

(Great Characters in Literature)

Aichinger, Peter. The American Soldier in Fiction, 1880-1963: A History of Attitudes Toward Warfare and the Military Establishment. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1975. Places the novel in the context of other treatments of World War II in American fiction. Complains that Mailer is unable to comprehend the character of the professional officer and that the novel is undermined by turgid ideological discourse.

Gordon, Andrew. An American Dreamer: A Psychoanalytic Study of the Fiction of Norman Mailer. Madison, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1980. Considers the novel in the context of other Mailer fiction that...

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