Saturday, April 8, 2017

For Monday: Heinlein, Starship Troopers, Chs.1-5

Answer TWO of the following:

Q1: The doctor at the recruiting station bristles when the narrator assumes he’s in the military: “Me?...No offence, but military service is for ants. Believe me, I seem ‘em go, I see ‘em comb back—when they do come back. I see what it’s done to them” (29). How does this society of the future view the military and its role in protecting society? Why does the narrator enlist despite these warnings and the strict disapproval of his parents? Does it resemble anything we’ve read in the WWI poets?

Q2: By the first chapter, the narrator is already a battle-weary veteran, survivor of many battles and wars. What is his understanding and philosophy of the military? Is he like Owen, someone cynical of the business of war but willing to take his place in the ranks? Or is he more like Brooke, romantic about the sacrifice to preserve an eternal “England”? You might also consider whether or not he’s satirizing the military or trying to defend it.

Q3: In the future, war is even more technologically advanced and impersonal than it is today. Indeed, one of the soldiers, seeing the futility of his role in a world of nuclear weaponry and computers, asks, “What’s the point of a whole lot of men risking their lives with obsolete weapons when one professor type can do so much more by pushing a button?” (51). Given that Heinlein actually served in the Navy, how does he seem to understand the role of a single, well-trained soldier in the ranks of a futuristic battlezone? Are soldiers mere cannon fodder, or do they serve a more useful—and perhaps, critical—role in a world of professors and robots?

Q4: Despite initial fears that the military was run by cruel, sadistic bullies, the narrator later admits that “It was too scheduled, too intellectual, to efficiently and impersonally organized to be cruelty for the sick pleasure of cruelty” (45). What is the purpose of their relentless training and seeming hazing exercises, and why do you think the author spends so much time documenting it? Do you think this is specific to the space troopers of the book, or might it apply even to the soldiers of today—or of Heinlein’s time?


  1. 1. This society sees the military as extremely brave, yet extremely naïve and downright crazy. Moreover, "I see what it's (war) done to them" indicates to the reader that society sees the negativity produced by the likes of war. In as much, even Rico notices the toll war had on him psychologically and physically. I believe the narrator enlisted not only to simply to disobey his father, but to prove to himself that he's capable despite being able to make it at the top of the business world. Yes! It resembles so much that we've read. Referring back to poets such as Brooke who romanticized poems regarding war and the hidden valor attained by it.

    2. The narrator, although tired and weary, continues to struggle and push! And many don't understand why. Maybe it is because he's someone like Owen who is cynical regarding war yet he is willing to continue and push for higher ranks. Although he knows very much what a higher rank entails. A higher rank means more work, and although he may be tired, he continues to push which makes the reader believe that he's like Owen -- a poet who doesn't truly like war but will still partake in it.

  2. 1. They view the military like an expensive vase. Mostly decorative with very little function and far too expensive. Most of the veterans we see are missing at least one limb and don't recommend joining. They don't see a driving need, some cause that could justify the steep cost to body and mind alike. We also don't hear much about what they get in return, further emphasizing how heavy service seems to be.

    2. He's settled into a little cog in a big machine. He may not know what purpose he has, but he'll do his job at the end of the day. Try not to think too hard on it and get out alive is very much a strong sentiment here. If there is satire, it's for the grand idea that war gives a man purpose. Dude has no clue why he's doing anything, only that it was ordered by the higher ups and that's it. He's not really enriched by his military serviced. More like well seasoned with salt and biting pepper when Cavender's Greek seasoning would have been just fine. He especially doesn't seem enamored by the 'die for man and country' ideal like we've seen in some poets.

    Kenia Starry

  3. Q1: In our society we put aside lots of money for our military. Our military is the best because of how much we spend to up keep it. In this book the military is how you become a citizen, you serve then your a citizen. Most people couldn't care less about joining the military. The military is like a flower beautiful to look at and delicate, but other than that it doesn't have a purpose.

    Q2: In war you do whatever it takes for you to get back home. When in war most people don't know what they're doing, so the higher ranked people order them to do stuff whatever that might be. No one knows at home what war is like, they can only imagine. Everyone is tired and wants to give up but can't. They have to keep fighting for each other and for their love ones back home.

    Bailey Copeland

  4. 1. When people think of war they think of all the horrifying movies you see with all the blood and death. Going to war is a brave step to take as you see people that come back tramitized and missing body parts. Like you said in class and as it was in the book to become a citizen you must first be a part of the military. It has many parts that resemble to the world war book we've read.
    2. Many have a visual outlook at what war is like but haven't been to war it is truly hard to really put our minds around it. He works for the higher ranked people as he knows they mean well. He pushed forward as part of his job it seems.

  5. Starship Troopers
    Q1. Reading these chapters, I was struck by how the main character seems to have been swept along into being a soldier, kind of like how Candide was. Most of his decisions are less a choice of bravery than an effort to save face in front of his peers. This seems to fit with quite a few of the poems we read about WW1. One of the poets mocked another for treating the war like a noble sacrifice, implying that he only picked up a gun to avoid being called a coward. We talk about the writers who spoke derisively of the war and yet signed up for it—I don’t think that’s very different from what Johnnie is doing.
    Q3. The instructor, Zim, takes the time to answer this recruits question. He asks, “Would you chop off a baby’s head to teach it a lesson?” He’s making the point that war isn’t really about eliminating the other side—or at least, not usually. It’s about breaking your enemy to the point that they’re willing to submit to your rule. That’s partly why we don’t use nuclear warheads in every conflict—as with the situation in Syria. The other part is to avoid reciprocal attacks.
    I think the danger in using such advanced technology in war is that you begin to see the fight like a video game, the casualties as blips on the screen.