Last Updated on July 15, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 663
I remember him, at the age of seven, as a rather solemn, brown-eyed little boy, with beautiful arched eyebrows which lately, to my infinite satisfaction, have begun to reproduce themselves, a pair of delicate question-marks, above the dark eyes of my five-year-old son. Even in childhood we seldom quarreled, and by the time that we both went away to boarding-school he had already become the dearest companion of those brief years of unshadowed adolescence permitted to our condemned generation.
Writing about her youth many years after the fact, Vera Brittain recalls her warmth for her brother, Edward. Though he has died, she sees his continuity in her son, in the form of his arched eyebrows. Her loving relationship is one of the bright spots in her childhood—which, in retrospect, she sees as a road leading an entire generation to the doom of World War I. Edward later perishes in the war.
It never occurred to me to count on marriage as a possible road to freedom. From what I already knew of men, it seemed only too probable that a husband would yet further limit my opportunities.
Even as a young girl before World War I, Brittain endorses feminist ideas and does not want to simply find a husband. Instead, she lobbies her father intensely until she is allowed to study at Oxford. She never wants to follow the traditional route of marriage, though her views are unorthodox for the time. To some degree, the war allows her greater freedoms than she might have otherwise been allowed.
"I do not know," I wrote in my diary, "how we all managed to play tennis so calmly and take quite an interest in the Insult. I suppose it is because we all know so little of the real meaning of war that we are so indifferent."
Brittain writes that on the day World War I breaks out, she and her friends are playing tennis. She does not yet grasp the significance of what is to come, in part because she has led a sheltered life. The juxtaposition of her merry game of tennis and the outbreak of the war shows how naive she is. She is soon to be stripped of her innocence by the deaths of her boyfriend, brother, and friends.
Huddling into a coat in my cheerless cubicle, I watched the snowflakes falling, and wondered how ever I was going to get through the weary remainder of life. I was only at the beginning of my twenties; I might have another forty, perhaps even fifty, years to live.
(The entire section contains 663 words.)
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