Philosophy discussion | Literature homework help

A Passage from Johnny Got His Gun 

By Dalton Trumbo (1938)
.

Read the following passage and answer the questions below. Try to guess the context of the situation you are reading. If you aren’t sure, look up the book, Johnny Got His Gun on Google and see if it helps make things clearer.

 

The nurse’s hands were on him. He could feel her washing his body and manipulating his flesh and dressing the wound in his side. She used something warm and greasy to dissolve the scab substance that held the mask to that point of irritation near his throat.  He felt like a child that has awakened weeping from a nightmare to find itself safe and snug in its mother’s arms. The nurse was company even though he couldn’t see or hear her. She was somebody and she was his friend. He wasn’t alone any longer. With her at hand there was no need for him to worry no need for him to struggle no need for him to think. The responsibility was completely hers and he had nothing to fear so long as she was close to him. Instead of the rat gnawing at his side he felt her cool fingers and the cleanliness of new bandages and fresh linen.
He knew now that the rat had been only a dream. He was so relieved to discover this that for a few minutes he almost forgot his fear. And then relaxing under the nurse’s care he suddenly chilled all over at realization that the rat dream might come again. It was almost a certainty to come again. He knew that the whole dream was started by his thinking of the wound in his side. His awareness of the wound as he fell asleep brought on the dream of the rat feeding at it. Since the wound remained it seemed almost certain that the same chain of thought would bring the rat back to him again in his sleep. Each time he fell asleep the rat would come and sleep instead of being forgetfulness would become as bad as being awake. A guy could stand a lot when he was awake. But when sleep came he deserved to forget everything. Sleep should be like death.

He knew the rat was a dream. He was sure of that. All he had to do was to find some way of getting himself out of the dream when it came. He could remember when he was a kid he used to have nightmares. Funny thing about them was they weren’t particularly awful ones either. The worst one was where he seemed to be an ant walking across a sidewalk and the sidewalk was so big and he was so small that sometimes he awakened yelling he was so scared. That was the way to stop nightmares by yelling so hard you waked yourself up. But hell that wouldn’t work for him now. In the first place he couldn’t yell and in the second place he was so deaf he couldn’t hear the noise anyhow. That was no good. He would have to find some other way.


He remembered that as he got older and different nightmares came he used to be able to think himself out of them. Just when it seemed the awful thing that was after him was going to get him he could think in his sleep here Joe this is just a dream. It’s just a dream Joe understand? And then in a little bit he would open his eyes and look into the darkness around him and the dream would be gone. That system might work with the rat. Instead of imagining himself running and yelling for help the next time the rat came he would just think to himself this is a dream. And then he would open—


But that wouldn’t work. He couldn’t open his eyes. In his sleep in the middle of the rat dream he might think himself out of it but how would he be able to prove he was awake if he couldn’t open his eyes and look around into the darkness?

 

__________________________________________


1. List any differences between the following claims:
·         Joe believes a rat has crawled over him, and is eating from his open wound.
·         Joe knows a rat has crawled over him, and is eating from his open wound.

·         Joe is certain that a rat has crawled over him, and is eating from his open wound.


2. Why should we trust our senses and experiences to tell us about the world? Why shouldn’t we? 


3.  True or False: Descartes decides it does not matter if we are dreaming right now or not.

.          If true, an example? 

.          Does Joe from Johnny Got His Gun agree?

Reference

Trumbo, D. 1994. Johnny Got His Gun. New York, NY: Citadel Press. First published 1939.







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