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Word Count: 2,231
The experience of war places stresses on the human spirit that can scarcely be imagined in peacetime Dilemmas that can be largely avoided in time of peace must be faced in a time of war Concern for ones own physical safety is often at odds with concern for the wellbeing of ones countrymen The dictates of the mind often fight the dictates of the emotions In such a tug of war situation where practical and moral factors align themselves in strange and ironic patterns it is hardly surprising that individuals respond in highly divergent ways In this paper the dangers that war poses to the human psyche will be considered and an attempt will be made to account for the some of the variability that can be seen in the way in which individuals respond to these threats An examination of two books suggests that certain character traits help inoculate people in time of war better enabling them to withstand the assaults of war It also suggests that the absence of certain traits makes people vulnerable when they are placed in threatening circumstances In examining two literary works The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje three character traits that were necessary in order to ensure spiritual survival were clearly shown These traits were faith courage and loyalty In the course of this paper special attention will be given to the character traits described above The significance of their presence or absence in the personalities of a number of literary characters will be considered In The Screwtape Letters Lewis portrays an anonymous English protagonist struggling to maintain his spiritual integrity against the assaults of temptations of Hell during World War Two In The English Patient Ondaatje portrays a group of characters brought together by their circumstances reacting to what the author portrays as the tidal wave of war The importance of faith courage and loyalty enable
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