My Boy Jack


My Boy Jack - Act One 

Rudyard Kipling and John: 

  • The relationship between John and Kipling seems relatively typical; Kipling is very domineering and authoritative - 'pop it on please'. John's language such as 'i've always wanted to join the army, and to...what's the word?, or...hold onto our...' suggests he is unsure of himself, and reliant on Kipling to tke control and tell him what to say. 
  • Also note a sense of silent compliance from John in stage directions like 'nods but says nothing'. 
  • John appears very childlike in comparison to the monumental task in sending him to battle. Eg in scene three, he looks around before tasking a cigaretta, as if in fear of reprisal.
  • Emphasis on symbolism like the pince-nez may show John's difficulty in conforming 
  • It's clear that Rudyard is held in a very high esteem - Sparks labels it a 'tremendous honour'. John's own medical exam is overshadowed by his father. 
  • In scene 5, John is structurally given far less to say than the other characters; just as before, John is overpowered by Kipling. Also, it arguably could represent the lack of choice John had in the matter, along with perhaps the lack of voice for soldiers as a whole.
  • Having become a soldier, 'daddo' becomes 'father'. In his last moments / thoughts, Kipling becomes 'daddo' again.
      • In battle, John becomes a father figure to his men - 'one shell is not an attack Bowe', McHugh take off your boots please'. 


  • Scene 5 begins, 'On and off one can hear, faintly, the sound of the guns in France'. This serves as a reminder of both the continual nearing of war and John's failure.
  • Scene 6 immediately changes the setting to war in a juxtapositional and disjointed way - a clear distinction between expectations and realities of war. It particularly demonstrates that the idealised or glorified view of war from the past few scenes is wrong. 
    • Pathetic fallacy not only reflects the dreariness / hopelessness of the environment, it may also foreshadow the problems John goes on to have with his glasses in the rain. 

The front:

  • Haig contrasts language of soldiers and civilians through profanity, colloquials, blaspheming and informal language. This not only indicates the high-stress environment they find themselves in, but also the reactions necessary for such graphic imagery. Given that all the sopldiers speak in this way, it may also indicate a breaking down of class barriers - war reduces all men to…


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