1.1 Richard Flanagan and The Narrow Road to the Deep North
The Narrow Road to the Deep North is written by Richard Flanagan,an Australian writer.He is considered by many to be the finest Australian novelist of his generation(TheEconomist,2014).He wins the 2014 Man Booker Prize for this novel.The title is taken fromthe 17th-century epic Oku no Hosomichi,the travel diary and the magnum opus of Japanesepoet Matsuo Bashō(Williams,2013).Flanagan is described by the Washington Post as“oneof our greatest living novelists”(Bethanne,2021).He is“considered by many to be the finestAustralian novelist of his generation”,according to The Economist,the New York Review ofBooks describes Flanagan as“among the most versatile writers in the English language”(Oates,2018).He was born in 1961 in Tasmania,and his family move to Ireland during theGreat Famine.Flanagan’s father is one of the survivors of the Burma Death Railway.Flanagan writes that his father’s experience as a Japanese prisoner of war influences him towrite the book(Flanagan,2013).Richard grows up with an awareness of trauma’s aftermathand legacy,he feels that he has the responsibility for writing this history so that it would notbe forgotten.The character of Dorrigo Evans is also partially based on the Australian heroEdward“Weary”Dunlop,an Australian Army doctor who struggles despite overwhelmingodds to care for the men who suffers and dies during the construction of the Burma DeathRailroad.Like Dorrigo,Dunlop bargains with the Japanese officers in an attempt to improveconditions for the“living skeletons”that are his fellow POWs(prisoners of war).And likeDorrigo,Dunlop finds that many of the Japanese and Korean guards are sadists whothoroughly enjoy inflicting misery on others.“But then there is not even an agreed numberingof all those who died on the Death Railway.The Allied POWs were but a fraction--some60,000 men--of those who slaved on that Pharaonic project.Alongside them were a quarter ofa million Tamils,Chinese,Javanese,Malayans,Thais and Burmese.Or more.Some historianssay 50,000 of these slave labourers died,some say 100,000,some say 200,000.
1.2 Literature Review
In China,The Narrow Road to the Deep North is first published by People’s LiteraturePublishing House in 2017 and is favored by a number of readers.And scholars have beenstudying this novel from different aspects.Among them,there are many articles analyze thenovel from the perspective of history or the construction of memories.For instance,WangLabao(2018，p.19)notes that a great cross-cultural novel does not imply mindless admirationfor another culture.A cross-cultural novel with a history of pain as its central theme mustrespect the historical feelings of both sides of the people,which cannot be subverted at willaccording to the novelist’s personal cultural preferences.Yu Dongyun(2019)also makes anintroduction about The Narrow Road to the Deep North in the book he that edited,but hisinterpretation does not cover the field of trauma either.Flanagan adores Japanese literatureand culture,but writing just for his personal amusement without considering basic historicalethics would undoubtedly offend many readers.In addition,Xie Yujun and Huang Wenkai(2020,p.621)analyze this novel in their article“The representation of history in RichardFlanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North”,which argues that in this novel the subjectof the speech is paid more attention to than the historical authenticity,and they criticize theauthor himself trying to get rid of the shackles of ideology,still suffers from it.They believethat Flanagan failed to achieve universality and equality in the full sense.There are alsostudies from the perspectives of multiple themes or the construction of memories.JiangXiaolu(2020)believes that it is not forgetting,but so-called dialogic remembering thattransforms a painful past of violence into an admission of guilt,which is the best solution tothe issues of dealing with traumatic occurrences.
Chapter TwoMajor Characters’Traumas
2.1 Causes of the Characters’Traumas
2.1.1 Main Character Dorrigo Evans
Dorrigo Evans is born into a poor family.His father is a railway fettler,and his family live in a Tasmanian Government Railways weatherboard cottage by the side of the line.Hehas few pleasant memories of his childhood,but the good thing is that he does not give up hisstudies because of the poverty of his family.Later he becomes a physician and joins theAustralian army,so he goes step by step into the abyss of captivity in World War II.Becominga prisoner of the Japanese at the Death Railway is something worse than death,and that is thebeginning of his nightmare.Dorrigo Evans’characterization is inspired in large part byFlanagan’s father,both of whom work in the medical field.This makes the experience andviewpoint from Dorrigo’s perspective all the more compelling,because as a doctor he knowsbest the physical ravages of the POWs.
The war goes on relentlessly,and most of those families on the beach are without theirfathers,men coming to the bar for drinks wearing military uniforms instead of suits ortracksuits.First of all,the battlefield and the brutal war environment give Dorrigo a hugeshock and even a physical reaction.All kinds of dead bodies are presented in an unbearablemanner,and the stench of the blasted dead fragments is emitted.The village has been bombedbeyond recognition,and all kinds of disgusting smells come to the surface:the dead donkeysand goats with thin bones,the smashed olive groves,the sour stench of high explosives,andthe heavy odor of spilled olive oil,all melding into one single nasty smell.
2.2 Symptoms of the Characters’Traumas
For readers,the characters in the text are divided into victims and perpetrators,but fromthe perspective of trauma psychology,the characters with different identities have differentkinds of trauma,they all suffer in their own ways.That is why it is important to dedicate asection to analyzing the different identities of trauma separately.
2.2.1 Captured Officer Unable to Free Fellow Soldiers
In the POW camps,the Australian officer-class soldiers are not subjected to the samehumiliation and slavery as the lower-ranking soldiers,but they are only exempt frompunishment,they have no practical power in the camps and are not able to do anything fortheir men under their command when they are being tortured.As a medical officer,Dorrigowitnesses the death of soldiers again and again,leaving him with painful wounds,and thesememories become his nightmares after the war,destroying his spirit again and again.Thefeeling of powerlessness against the abused soldier in the case of Dorrigo’s own well-beingevolved into a deep sense of self-recrimination in his heart.Just as Freud analyzes,patientswould constantly relive the traumatic scenes in their dreams,and if they have hystericalmanifestations that can be analyzed,it is not difficult to find that these behaviors are alsointended to recreate the traumatic scenes.Patients seem to have trouble letting go of thatscene and still see it as a current priority(pp.217-226).
Chapter Three“The Narrow Road”to Recovery....................................29
3.1 Dorrigo Evans and Other Soldiers’Searching for Cure......................................29
3.1.1 The Cure and Limitations Under Dorrigo Evans’Heroic Halo.................29
3.1.2 The Survived Soldiers’Struggle to Be Normal...................34
Chapter Four Conclusion...................................44
Chapter Three“The Narrow Road”to Recovery
3.1 Dorrigo Evans and Other Soldiers’Searching for Cure
3.1.1 The Cure and Limitations Under Dorrigo Evans’Heroic Halo
In The Narrow Road to the Deep North,the reader can draw the conclusion that thedamage suffered by Dorrigo comes mainly from two sources:one is the war trauma and theother is the fruitless love with Amy.It is not possible to compare the two types of traumas anddiscuss which one causes him more pain,but the only sure thing is that they both deeplyaffect Dorrigo’s character for the rest of his life.
Before meeting Amy,Dorrigo actually has a fiancée,Ella,who seems to be a perfectmatch for him.“Ella’s father was a prominent Melbourne solicitor,her mother from awell-known grazing family;her grandfather was an author of the federal constitution.Sheherself was a teacher.If she was sometimes dull,her world and her looks still burnt brightly for Dorrigo”(Flanagan,2015,p.64).But from these descriptions the reader can feel thatDorrigo is not in love with Ella,they are only suitable on a social level.Ella is just a goodchoice for him as a marriage partner.So,the very moment that glamorous Amy enters hissight with a red flower in her ear,he is unsurprisingly enchanted by her:
Her eyes burnt like the blue in a gas flame.They were ferocious things.For somemoments her eyes were all he was aware of.(Flanagan,2015,p.65)
Flannagan uses intercutting narratives to describe the experiences of Australian prisonersof war in Japanese POW camps in World War II,and he takes a novel perspective on thepsychological trauma of Australian surviving POWs and cares for their mental health.First ofall,he takes an Australian officer Dorrigo as the narrative protagonist to show the heavyatmosphere of the whole POW camp from Dorrigo’s personal life experience and hispsychological condition at different stages of life.On the one hand,Flanagan conveys thepsychological trauma caused by the war by describing Dorrigo’s living conditions after thewar;on the other hand,he intersperses the incidents that happened in the POW camp,whichgives the readers a greater understanding of the experience and psychological trauma sufferedby the Australian POWs.In addition to the depiction of the main character-Dorrigo,who is ahigh-ranking military doctor,there are also numerous depictions of other ordinary POWs.Thedetailed narration of the different soldiers’tragic deaths gives the work itself a greatconvincing power.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North,as a book in the genre of war,takes a differentapproach and perspective from other books of its kind.First of all,there is no epic heroicstory or grand war scenes in this book.Although the main character Dorrigo is known as awar hero after the war,he does not actually do much beyond his job to save lives duringwartime.There are no inspiring scenes of successful resistance in the book,only the brutaloppression of Australian prisoners of war by Japanese officers.Flanagan says he does notwant to write with the intention of condemning anyone,so his account is the moststraightforward and unadorned of what happened in the POW camps.And this unadorneddescription gives the reader a more realistic picture.Secondly,Flanagan carries out a lot ofdetailed descriptions,including the evil deeds of the Japanese and the psychological state ofthe POWs.