The bridge

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by Newcastle75
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The bridge

The Wider World and Me

The deeper unexplored areas concerning warfare are not often mentioned in books, but with Jane Higgins novel, she describes the ferocity, clashing ideologies, futility, yet inner hope of warfare ruthlessly. Studied from only one perspective, it is difficult to completely understand war. We see this repeated in history, with the Crusades, and almost every other war. We remember the tragedy of 9/11 but also seem to forget one of the driving forces- the military campaigns held by Christian knights on innocent Muslims in an attempt to reclaim Jerusalem. Both sides fought for what they believe, and in the end we cannot entirely demonize one side. The Bridge is set in a futuristic, dystopiam landscape which similar already to some heavily miliatrized parts of the globe, and warns us of how war can rip apart a nation. Nik discovers this as he and Fyffe cross to Southside and discover how Levkova's kindness towards him contrasts with after the bombing in the Cityside, "No one is coming. No troops in their jeeps. No Police. No emergency services. No one." Jane Higgins uses repetion of the word "no" to further drive in the school's vulnerability and the incompetancy or cruelness of their own military.Also, the "two-faced" properties of each side is noted by Fyffe, in "How could you take such care with this child here and plant a bomb in a school over there!" There is alos inner conflict on the souths side. The politics of the Remnant (a religious group dedicated to gaining control over government) seems to require that women remain in a background role and that the power of God is used to invoke fear: ‘You appear but rarely at prayer, you scorn the modesty of widows, you assume control of affairs that should concern no woman," is a strong argument used against the Remnant court. This reminds us of the real world where dictators take advantage of religion and women to gain control of the masses. Similarly on the City, a different strategy is used. Young cadets are taught from birth how to fight the Southsiders and are taught about their "barbaric" ways. War is not black and white, and once you get over the barrier (the bridge) and open up to the other side, you can find your "truth."

"We rode to war in a taxi cab." This is the cracking opening line of "The Bridge," and some key issues raised in this novel are ideas about war, propaganda, racism, class distinction and how political and religious ideology plays into war. War- the novel begins with the main protaginist Nik. He is of high social class- a city sider and attends a prestigious school. The novel describes the ruthlessness, as well as the futility of war. Power and politics affects an environment where information becomes a valuabe weapon. "Peace without justice or peace without mercy? Which would you choose?"Both these are equally bleak, and when you consider that these are the two options the protagonist has to choose from, you realise just how ruthless this war is.Self identity also plays a major role, and as you follow Nik's narration,he begins to realise more of who he is, and question the side he is fighting for. Growing up, he is taught the barbaric tendencies of the civilisation on the other side of the lake, but when he really gets to know the people, you begin to question which is the good side. This leads us to realize that is war- the good and bad are not separated like black and white. Every country is fighting for what it thinks is right, as- "Every villain is a hero in his own mind."


The Bridge


Nik:Nik is the main protaginist, and we follow his narration as he discovers more about the world around him. Nik is a very relateable character- innocent, driven and sporting a strong sense of justice. Nik is a representation of the sense of adventure inside the reader. The world he lives in is strange, and complicated, as the author describes the feeling of self-identity. Nik begins as a city-sider, but then discovers truths about himself and about the world. "The part of my brain that was watching for her was also registering how easy it was to sit there and read screen after screen of Breken..." shows his troubled thoughts about the innate ability that allows him to understand a Southsider language so fluently as if it were his own. This can be used as a giant metaphor to express to readers that no matter how difficult they try to be something they are not, they alwasy revert back to who they are. "I’m no one and I don’t fit in anywhere," having a dual identity allows some insight in the complexity of the relationship between two sides, and the complexity of distinguishing between right and wrong.


Class division "Over the Bridge, it's dark not day Over the Bridge, the devils play Over the Bridge, their souls are BLACK Go over the Bridge and you won't come BACK."This is a nursery rhyme of the citysiders used to describe the Southsiders. This just shows the tension between the two sides but also the ignorance of the Citysiders. Class disctinction also plays a large role in the novel. The two sides are separated from each other, and each side believes it is of higher stance than the other. The Southsiders are referred to as "heathens," "hostiles," "enemies with no soul," and other derogatory terms. Though within each side, there is further division in ranks.The military and the people are very different on the cityside. The people in the militray are generally the 'smarter,' 'fitter' and all round better, but also dangerous as the author suggests through her use of similie in "As alike as peas in a pod, as bullets in a belt." Whereas the students use "generator power’, that "roast potatoes and bread and butter are but a memory" and that dessert was ‘pseudo fruit."

Each conflict is fought on at least two grounds- the battefield and the minds of people via propaganda. Propaganda serves to rally people behind the crowd, but in a dystopian world such as The Bridge, contact with the other side is very minimal, so stories can often get away with being grossly exaggerated or misleading, all in an attempt to gain the masses' support.Propaganda can come in many forms, and sometimes integrates seamlessly into a religion,culture and practices. Such one example is the "Crossing," a ritual conducted by Southsiders as a way to both mourn the death caused by war and to symbolically set themselves free from so called "chains" of the Cityside. Powerful language is used by the conductor, word like, "We have been patient. We are patient no longer. We have been caged. We are caged no longer!" Both the use of metaphor and the use of 'we' unites the audience and makes people more involved, more motivated and driven to win this pointless war.On the Cityside, young students are raised for the purpose of hopefully becoming cadets for ISIS. ISIS is a prestigious intelligence service, devoted to conducting attacks on information and systems. Propanganda like this is shown to kids very early on. If you are smart, you will escape this cold, clammy prison of a school and live the pampered, glorified life of a soldier fighting on the frontlines of communications. It's interesting how even though they have a grip on communications, all they do is gather enemy information, and do not attempt to make contact with the other side, as if they have already reached the conclusion that there is no saving the "Barbarians" on the other side.

Propaganda, Religion and Politics


Jasmin Zhou


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