In Our Time, Mrs. Dalloway, and World War I

Both published in 1925, In Our Time by Ernest Hemingway and Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf chronicle the effects of World War I on society.  While these texts may seem different in the nature that they are narrated, they collectively contribute to the narrative of the post-war experience.  Hemingway’s short stories detail some of the societal reasons as to why young men were pushed to fight for their countries, whereas Woolf’s novel demonstrates the aftereffects of the violence and death.

As evident through one of Hemingway’s main characters, Nick, pride and masculinity often played a large role in society’s general push toward violence in the first place.  Nick strives to gain his father’s approval throughout the course of the short stories, while also aiming to be a brave man through his efforts in war.  Woolf contradicts some of these societal influences through her descriptions of Septimus’s struggles; although he fought for his nation and lived, he still suffers from fear and anxiety after the war’s end.  These narratives piece together important information about the human condition in the wake of violence and destruction, largely responding to the incidents that occurred during World War I.