Joe Haldeman's The Forever War

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George Gurdjieff describes the root of one’s mentality with his timeless reflection, “Personality in man is what is "not his own" . . . what comes from outside, what he has learned, or reflects, all traces of exterior impressions left in the memory” (George Gurdjieff). Gurdjieff is showing how events and experiences that someone has been through affect their view on the world, which is a major theme that occurs in Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War. In The Forever War, through the dilation in time and the travel through space, Joe Haldeman shows how one’s mindset and way of thinking can change drastically with encounters and experiences. Throughout the book, Mandella travels across the galaxy at speeds greater than the speed of light. Traveling…show more content…
Through experiences with other humans, Mandella is changed and shaped into a different person. When Mandella learns about the death of his mother from his brother, he is in a state of shock. “Mother’s dead. For a fraction of a second, the radio waves wandered up to the moon, and in another fraction, came back. I couldn’t believe what I just heard” (Haldeman 158). Mandella tells his brother about their mom’s death through phone because of the fact that his brother is on the moon. The appearance of space in the scene marks the change in Mandella from these experiences. His mother, just like anyone’s mother, is extremely important to him. His mother was his only surviving family back home, and with the death of her he is destroyed. His motivation for getting through the war was just to see his mother again, and she died right when he got back home. The death of his mother shows the bonds that humans make with each other, and these bonds can easily alter someone's emotions. Mandella also reveals how connections to friends can create and morph an individual's mind: “Don’t you know the ship was hit? Thirty dead, and they don’t the slightest notion of what caused it. I was hardly hearing her. Pensworth, LaBatt, Smithers, Christine and Frida. All dead. I was numb” (Haldeman 101). The men and women that Mandella has been surrounded with…show more content…
Time dilation itself is a huge change for the people who are in the ship because of the fact one or two years for them is hundreds and possibly thousands of years for the rest of the world. Right after Mandella gets off the ship and finally comes back to Earth, he is extremely suprised about the changes that have taken place to the world. He meets his mother as soon as possible and hears some grievous news. “My mother had met me at Kennedy, suddenly and sadly old, and told me my father was dead. Flyer accident. I was going to stay with her until I could get a job” (Haldeman 122). Mandella is shocked about all the new changes to Earth. He never thought that his home planet could change this dramatically. Mandella is shocked when he hears that his dad had died. He was expecting something of the sorts to happen, but he never actually believed it. Mandella turns into a more gloomy person after he comes back to Earth, as everything is changed and completely different than he remembered it. Mandella is no longer his usual self. After he learns about how the whole world operates now, and how medical treatment is only administered to those who are important to society, he loses hope for himself. The only thing keeping Mandella going is his lover, Marygay. She survived the campaign with Mandella, against all odds, and is now on Earth with her family. After the death of his mother, Mandella decides to go and live

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