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Word Count: 1,721
The Mask They create the mask a thing to hide behind a veil before the eyes that removes faces and replaces them with targets They fill our ears with glory to drown out the screams and replace the bodies of those we have loved with medals shiny and new washed clean of the blood that stained them Those that have worn the mask come from behind it forever changed never knowing that it was the mask that changed them The uniform removes the ears and imprisons thoughts drawing lines of black and white until the gray beneath is lost to the eye The military world is characterized by the absence of freedom --in other words rigorous discipline-- enforced inactivity ignorance cruelty debauchery and drunkenness And yet this is the highest caste in society respected by all Tens of thousands of men meet to massacre one another to kill and maim and then they will offer up thanksgiving services for having slain such vast numbers they even exaggerate the number and proclaim a victory supposing that the more men they have slaughtered the more credit to them Tolstoy We see this from the very beginning of Ernest Hemingways A Farewell to Arms And through the eyes of Frederic Henry an American Lieutenant in the Italian army we begin to know the mask The reader is thrown into the novel with a statement that shows a major part of the mask the cold and calculated way humans are reduced to numbers At the start of the winter came the permanent rain and with the rain came the cholera But it was checked and in the end only seven thousand died Pg 4 The young men lost are regarded with as much sympathy as one can muster for expected necessary losses as if it were only seven thousand lives But perhaps this is correct for the supply of bright-eyed youngsters seems to be inexhaustible as hundreds of
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