Day 18  March 18, 2003


1. Names. Collect historical surveys. Some journals to give back. Begin with Nickel and Dimed on Thursday.


2. In the news:


Miranda, Eliz. Smart:


Ryan,  Horseshoe Bend,


Kristen, new flu strain,,2933,81235,00.html#top    


Zach, NCAA tourney,

Erica, Bush’s speech,  


AP News, March 18, 2003, 9:00

PhotoBush Tells Saddam to Leave by Wednesday

35 minutes ago

Edging to the brink of war, President Bush gave Saddam Hussein until Wednesday to leave his country and told Americans that military confrontation will ultimately make them safer. Full Coverage

PhotoU.S. Terror Alert Level Raised to 'High'

2 hours, 41 minutes ago

With war in Iraq likely in just days, the Homeland Security Department raised the national terror alert to orange, indicating a high risk of terrorism against American interests. Full Coverage

PhotoWhite House to Seek Up to $90B for War

2 hours, 9 minutes ago

The White House is expected to ask Congress for up to $90 billion to pay for a war with Iraq and other expenses within days of the start of combat, congressional and White House aides said Monday. Full Coverage

PhotoGulf Veteran Executed for Killing Soldier

21 minutes ago

A decorated Gulf War veteran who claimed his exposure to Iraqi nerve gas caused him to rape and kill a female soldier was executed by injection Tuesday at a federal prison. Full Coverage

Americans Divided on Iraq After Speech

1 hour, 25 minutes ago

As Molly Tipton listened to President Bush's message to the nation, she found herself agreeing with parts of it. But she still sees the prospect of war with Iraq as scary.

3. Today I’d like to do some more reflection on War Memorials, and think around and beyond it as well, to the kinds of implications for American society that it contains and implies, especially in two areas: how men define themselves as “men,” and the long-term effects of military service, experience, and training.

So. When Clint McCown was here last spring he talked about raising questions, not providing easy answers, and I respect him for that. Here’s a question that I think we might continue to ask, emerging from this book: What does it take to make the passage to manhood in America? What are our rituals, our rites of passage, and how well are they working? Pause and jot down the events, the sign-posts, that you think of as marking the passage from boyhood to manhood (girlhood to womenhood too).

What are they? Getting a driver’s license? Finishing school, getting a degree, getting a job? Turning 21? Serving in the military, playing on a championship team, getting married, fathering a child?  What’s Nolan’s problem with all of these things? He’s shut out of them, for one reason or another. And/or: the rites prove to be themselves suspect, or to teach people ways of living and being that aren’t especially useful. Another question: what kind of men result from particular ways of defining manhood? There’s the old saw: “The God you worship is the God you deserve.”

Some passages and ideas to consider:

110, Brother Willis: “If that man can do good works, so can we all!”

132: Tump’s ancestors, conscripted and court-martialed, executed for being messy.

“Buried Treasure”: The stuff that’s buried in the ground, that Dell wants to clean up, 138 ff. The vision of Alma, who turns out to have more of a plan than Nolan expects, 145, besides looking good without her shirt. The money is in probate, of course, but still.

“Some Assembly Required”: chopping out stumps, heatstroke, then the marvelous conversation with the traveling Jesus guy, 152 ff., who turns out to be named Chet. He’s on disability—“they say I cracked up in the Marine Corps.” Another conversation about what one learns in the military, 156 ff. “Mostly what I learned was not to think for myself.” Not a bad thing in a complicated world: “You ain’t got to figure nothing out for yourself, you just got to do what you’re told and act like you’re supposed to.”

“Except for being a Jesus-loving lunatic, Chet really wasn’t too bad a guy.”

Alma tries to buy an ostrich and a cougar, but the ostrich sticks its head in the cougar cage, crunch. 164: cats never look guilty, but dogs understand good and evil. Nolan wonders if he has any cat left in him. Alma loves dangerous animals, she says. And he agrees to talk to somebody about dynamite—Steve Pitts, of course.

Pattern here? dangers that strike suddenly, unpredictably?

“Demolition Derby”: Buddy Pilot, who turns out to be the guy who shot Tump, more or less accidentally. The problem with Buddy, Nolan says, is that he’s an “unaffiliated misfit.” (171)

The demolition derby, which turns out to be mainly cars they’ve repossessed—Nolan watches them get crunched, 174. The Jaycees are raising money . . . for a new war memorial, of course, for the Gulf War, 175.

176: key passage on the “imaginary monument” for all the un-military casualties, Nolan, his cousin, his grandmother and sister-in-law and brother and mother and maybe his wife.

Steve shows up, then, trashing Ricky Malone’s car with his backhoe. Seems he’s after Ricky because both Steve and Tump were Marines. Baby-faced delinquents in the crowd, like Nolan and all the rest, “capable of just about anything” (178).

Nolan talks to Frank Shelton, who just might be Donna’s mystery lover and who Nolan tries to set up with Donna again. And Nolan goes to confront Buddy, who’s running the dart booth.

Maybe I was most surprised by his idea that Nolan needs to “become a veteran,” and that he does that by throwing all those darts at poor Buddy and by looking back so that Steve Pitts will blow himself up. Buddy needs to be brought to justice for shooting Tump with an arrow, surely, but by throwing fifteen darts at him?

“Revelations”: Nolan’s palms are “clever forgeries.” His future’s still illegible, in doubt, but Alma likes that, 190. She wants something “risky and wild.” Chet’s preaching from the Book of Revelations, about the pale horse. Nolan thinks about pioneers and circling the wagons and hostile territory and how his ancestors stopped here because they had to bury their dead, 193. The enemies were “displaced Hillabees,” and he’s descended from them too—both winners and losers, killers and victims.

He’s driven off the road by two teenage punks, then finds Steve Pitts with his backhoe packed full of dynamite and fireworks. Turns out Steve has a brain tumor, maybe the product of the weird chemicals he worked around in the Marines. “I’d have been good in a war,” he says, 198. “Instead, I got peacetime.”

He tells Nolan that Laney went up to Nashville to get an abortion. Then Nolan walks away, and kaboom.

“That Angle . . .” Laney and Nolan out at the Horseshoe Bend battlefield, still uncertain. Naturally it turns out complicated, but they do start talking. Montgomery, the first guy killed: Laney said “He might have been one of those psychotic lunatics who just wanted to be a war hero.” Like Steve, we assume. 210

“I’m glad you never went into the army,” she tells Nolan. Memorials and what we learn from them. The battle turned into slaughter because “the goddamned fanatics wouldn’t let anybody quit.” 211.

Nolan had ancestors on both sides—his Creek great-grandmother never would have met his great-grandfather if not for the battle and the cloud that floated over. “We’re all just the natural products of the last ten thousand years of tribal warfare.” 212.

Nolan has a new job at the Salvation Army. Symbolic, no doubt.

Finally they talk about their marriage, a bit—Laney says he’s boring, and he agrees. But he goes to get their stuff from the dog, and manages it—the dog turns out not to be rabid after all, just young. And it ends with the chance they’ll go on. He’s not a big hitter, but he can “check my swing and draw the walk.”

5. About hierarchies: we talked about Celie, stuck at the bottom of a bunch of them. What about Nolan? He’s a white male, which gives him points in two areas. But otherwise? He’s not educated, not especially smart, his wife’s not faithful, he’s dependent on his father for money, he was never an athletic hero nor a war hero like Steve Pitts and his dad. In some ways, his fix is comparable to Celie’s—not as awful, surely, but no real picnic either. Like her, he wants love and work and friends. He doesn’t want to be an unaffiliated misfit.

Looking out beyond this book, isn’t this a pretty common problem for American males, especially those from working-class backgrounds who aren’t especially drawn to or successful at academic work? How do you establish yourself as a man? You get a good job and marry a desirable woman, right? But how do you get a good job if the factories have all moved to Mexico? How do you win a good woman if you don’t make money? What if there’s no war to be a hero in, or if the war you get sent to doesn’t turn out grand and glorious? Etc.

6. Another issue: what does military service do to people? This book suggests that its effects are often long-lasting and dramatic even when they’re not very visible, yes? Some of the veterans are enthusiastic about what they learned, but their enthusiasm seems a bit shaky to us, doesn’t it?

On the effects of military training, David Grossman piece from Christianity Today that I found on the web at (from a lecture delivered at Bethel College). Besides brutalization and desensitization, classical and operant conditioning. Television and video games. How to “unlearn violence”? Crack down on crime/infringe on civil liberties; gun control; fight against child abuse, racism, and poverty, rebuild families; take on media violence.

It never occurs to Grossman, or if it does he doesn’t mention it, that military training also feeds directly into violence in civilian life, because military-trained killers do mostly reenter civilian life.

Student Responses


The main thing that caught me by surprise in this book is the relationship between Nolan and his wife.  It's unbelievable that a couple could live their lives that way and pretty much think nothing of it.  On page 173, Nolan says, "prone to making more than my usual share of mistakes."  I take this to mean that he blames himself for his wife straying from him.  As far as I can tell, Nolan seems to be an okay guy.  He just doesn't fit the standards of the town in that he never joined the armed forces and was never a football star.  As for his attraction to Alma, I would have to say that would be pretty normal for someone in his position.  He's pretty much lived without a wife for so long, why wouldn't he have some sort of attraction to another women?  ON 176, he talks about those who deserve a war memorial who weren't actually in wars.  I think he takes a really good stand on this issue.  There are so many people in this world who die without the recognition that they deserve.  We all have special people in our lives who deserve credit and don't get it before they die.  It takes war and crime for people to be listed as martyrs.  It amazes me the way in which war is idolized throughout this book and how twisted it is.  I am all for war, but, wow...when somebody does something wrong, wrong is wrong.  (ie: Steve chasing Ricky around on the backhoe).  It seems as though as long as you are a veteran, you can do no wrong in this town.  Sad, really.  In general, this book was quite good.  I really enjoyed.  I like that the end of the book is left open to the reader.  There is no definite direction taken, and that is good.  THough I liked Alma, I feel that Laney and Nolan need to work out their differences.  It's too bad that Steve had to die for this...had he lived, would Laney have stayed with him?  I would like to think not.  What kind of life is that?  I am also pleased that she kept the baby.  I like how the book related our existence to the outcomes of war...I'd never really looked at life like taht, but we are all results of consequences.  "War Memorials" doesn't alwasy ahve to literally mean, memorials from war.  This can also be of past family life.  Seems like NOlan went through plenty of wars in his family both as a child and as an adult.  yet, he came out of all of them okay.  Those memorials shaped him inot the person he is and this is the same for everyone on earth.

I was very greatful to learn last week taht Elizabeth SMart had been found.  I think that it will be some time before Elizabeth will be willing or able to tell of her ordeals with her kidnappers.  I agree that she was probably brain-washed.  I can't imagine the horror that she must have gone through and then yet grow to love her captors.  It is unbeleivable that people could have that much influence or control or power over another human being.  Mr. Mitchell and his wife need help.  They belong in prison. 


Miranda Thorn



Response over War Memorials

Ryan Whitaker


I feel bad for Nolan, but some of the stuff that happens to him seems far fetched but really this man can not catch a break at all. Does the guy ever live one normal event in his life? He just tries to live a normal life and do things that abide the law but he comes across some of the strangest of situations. One day he is walking around town trying to find a job to make some money, and the next thing he knows, he is saving people from snakes. Also when he is meeting his father and Morgan and Tump to take a road trip with them, and then he walks into the store and Tump gets shot in the side by an arrow.  Can’t Nolan ever get anything to go his way?  Really he must think his life sucks cause everything bad happens to him it seems like.

My first response to the reading is that I've enjoyed the book. There were several times I found myself actually laughing inside when I was reading. One example is when Nolan is forced to bury the dead lizard in the yard while it is raining. As he stands there with his
wife, he feels like he should say something, so he blurts out, "He was a good lizard", and then starts laughing. I mean he's already in deep crap with his wife because she thinks he killed the lizard, and then to start laughing about the situation is hilarious.

My second response is that the way the Pastor singles Nolan out at the fair. I couldn’t believe that a man of the Lord would actually do something that would embarrass someone like that, plus he is a man of Holiness what gives him the power and right to do anything like that.  He says things like "Even the least among us is blessed, just look at this man (Nolan)" Nolan is just an ordinary guy trying to figure out the mess that has been his life, he isn't looking for any attention, he tries to be nice and polite to people, and he hates his job as a repossession man, and everyone acts like he enjoys taking people's possessions. He feels bad enough about his life, and then the pastor acts like Nolan gives everyone hope since he is the biggest low-life in the world.

The address of the Web site I found that relates to this reading is:

At the end of War Memorials I found the situation with Nolan and Steve Pitts interesting and not expected. Throughout the entire book Nolan avoids confrontation at all costs.  Finally Nolan confronts Steve about Laney by telling him to “back off from Laney” (198).  It seems that Nolan still has a hope that something will happen between him and his wife to make their marriage better and he doesn’t want Steve to figure into it.  It turns out that Nolan didn’t need to worry about Laney and Steve anymore because Steve had a plan to kill himself and went through with it.  I was glad that Nolan finally got the guts to confront Steve about the affair that he was having with his wife.  It bothered me that Nolan was so passive in the book and not sticking up for things.  In the last chapter some interesting things happen between Nolan and Laney.  They actually start to act like they are married when they go to visit the war memorial.  Nolan and Laney have an interesting conversation about war and Laney tells Nolan that she is glad that he never went into the army.  Nolan admitted that he felt left out in their town where almost every person had been in a war.  This conversation about war is probably the longest one that they had in the entire book.  When Laney finds out about Nolan’s new job she is very happy for him and even calls him “sweetheart” (213).  As the reader I started to think that their marriage was going to work out after all. The entire scene with Nolan going out after the dog seems to be him showing Laney that he wasn’t the boring man that she thought he was.  Nolan was starting to see the possible change that was happening in his life.  Change was something that he had grown used to and could explain why he didn’t see much bothered by anything.  Nolan had grown to like uncertainly and change in his own life.  I think that it was something that kept him going and he almost even looked forward to it.  I think there is a lesson to be learned from his outlook on change.  We need to take things as they come and not get too excited when change happens because the guesswork in life keeps us moving in someway that we probably will never understand.,2933,81235,00.html#top    


    There have been a handful of cases of a mystery outbreak of a new flu strain that has been going around the globe.  Doctors have said that there should not be panic because the strain does not seem to be as aggressive as some other forms of influenza.  There have been nine people that have died but no more since this outbreak has been reported.  The 167 cases that have appeared in the last three weeks have been from health workers in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Singapore.  It could take weeks find out what exactly this mystery flu strain is and where it came from.  Experts think that it is an exotic virus or in the worst case a new form of influenza.  However it already does not seem to spread as quickly as what the flu does.  Mainly people should not panic because it is not spread easily through casual contact.  It is spread by very close contact with the person mainly to hospital workers.  The symptoms are a high-fever and flu like symptoms.  Death occurs from respiratory failure.  The symptoms seem to be showing up in people that have recently visited Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singapore.  Health officials will continue to look for the cause of this new flu outbreak.


Kristen Washington


The Novel War Memorials seems to hit me in a way that makes me question my

own personal reactions to events and others around me. From watching Nolan

struggle and triumph with such life issues as we all go through in life, it

makes me think that I too react in similar ways. In away personal to my life

I felt strong convictions evoked by reading this book. Like Nolan growing

up, I too felt that I wasn’t close enough to God. I always felt that there

was something I needed to be doing in order to establish a set place on the

right hand of God and set my heaven reservation in stone. No matter the

institution of church and Sunday school and 13 years of private Christian

school did this make me feel anymore sure of my reservation. I guess like

Nolan I felt that I was just unsure of being sure. Strange as it may seem I

think we all can be guilty of this in some point in our life. I guess we see

those around us who are just so wonderfully driven and know how to react and

know of their position that in a way it makes those of us who are more

unsure about our standings feel even more paranoid. Anyways . . . (sorry to

get off on a tangent), it just was neat I felt how I could relate different

aspects of this book to my own personal life . . .(not always true of most

other Novels). Another aspect from the book was how Nolan faced different

relationships with people in his lives, this all made him seem so real and

actually and tangible figure. And how it touched on how time changes and

heals and also leaves some things unsaid and or undone. Bottom line I liked

it, it made me think and I can’t always say everything I always read evoke

such strong convictions.


Article response:

The New York Times


Fashion Tries to Smile on the Outside



I know that there is currently a lot going on in the world right now with

war and etc…. but personally I am tired of hearing about all the

possibilities and promises and plans . . . and on and on. That is why I

chose this article, but not to be in contempt I would like to point out too

that with the issues at hand the fashion industry, (as some may not feel

important) will and has been affected in a large way. In the article Cathy

Horyn tells of the up and coming trends that are focusing on happiness and

triumph, igniting bright and bold styles and colors. This promotes strength

and power and for all of us who feel we have no control right now of our

world, this is just the ticket. The article also touched on the use of fur

now, it seems that the idea of killing an animal for its fine coat isn’t as

important as war . . . who would have thought! It also goes into the fact

that all wars cause a change in production and costs. My thoughts are that

if we go to war it will happen just as in the past wars and fashion will be

low key and less used (material and extras). . .  however in this article my

own personal opinion is not the case . . . I guess we may find out.


Erin Weber

Tonight Bush announced we may go to war, but I didn't want to write about that.  Every guy I know is starting pools, and asking people to join them in the race for the NCAA mens college basketball championship tournament.  My favorite team, which is the Kentucky Wildcats, has been picked by numerous guys in Lincoln hall, as well as to go all the way and be crowned 2003 NCAA champions.  The article gives several reasons for UK's 23 game winning streak, as well as thoughts and comments from other SEC coaches.  There is not one main reason for UK's success, but it is more a combination of several important aspects.  It ranges from talent and team work to fundamental unselfish basketball.  In the article in the New York times and at it talks about the defense of Kentucky and how that is the reason for them winning games, and will win the national championship.  I found it interesting that after UK won the SEC tournament in Louisiana, they did not cut down the net, but left it there for them to cut down after they win the championship. 
The book War Memorials was a very interesting book.  It definitely was a change of pace from all previous texts we have read for this class.  I found it enjoyable and it kept my interest.  Sometimes I found myself feeling sorry for Nolan because he never seemed to do anything right.  He got fired from his fathers business, found a dead man, learned about his wife cheating on him, he killed the lizard, and broke the desk for starters.  Overall, I feel this book was good.  I liked the story it had and I found it to be an enjoyable read.


Zach Simpkins


I found War Memorials really interesting.  His life was really interesting – how everyone in his community thought the same way, but he was different.  I wish I could have read more about his actual beliefs, but I think it was really well written.  It talks a little bit about the religious struggles he goes through.  When his younger brother and mother died, these were things that were difficult but he got over, and he felt bad for that.  He really tries to become like everyone else in their beliefs, but he can’t do it.  Something interesting that I found, which I wished would have been talked about more, was when Nolan was looking through the book on Andrew Jackson in the restaurant, and he was remembering a report he wrote many years earlier.  He called it his anti-war, anti-Jackson, anti-American report.  It’s amazing how much he differs from everyone else in his town.  Patriotism seems to be such a huge part of that community.  Another interesting part I read was when he was talking with some of the guys about the military, and Nolan says that most of what he knows about Jesus would put him pretty much at odds with the military.  I loved this part, because I really agree with him.  Jesus would never be involved in the military.  Nolan also questions these men later in the book, wondering do they know what the real war is?  I believe the real war is in ourselves.  Evil is in all of us.


Last night Bush gave Saddam Hessein 48 hours to do something before the U.S. attacks.  One of the quotes was, “instead of drifting along toward tragedy, we will set a course toward safety”.  In going out to war, he is causing a lot of unnecessary tragedy.  He also made some statements to the Iraqi people, and he said he is launching this invasion so that he will liberate them from a murderous regime.  I don’t understand why he says these things.  He doesn’t want to kill the people of Iraq, but that will definitely happen.  He’s making going to war seem like such noble and respectable action, but it is going to cause so much hurt and pain.  I cannot understand how this war can be justified.  It really makes me sad that this has to happen.


Erica Wiebe



I really enjoyed reading “War Memorials”, which surprised me because I

didn’t think that I would enjoy it as much as I did.  For the most part I

thought the story line was really interesting and funny, although by the end

I sort of felt like a lot of it was left undone.  In the beginning of the

book he talked a lot about his dad and how he didn’t really feel like he fit

in, but they never really cleared any of that up, by the end of the book

their situation was just as odd as it had always been.

      I also thought it was very interesting how the author brought Alma’s

character into the book and brought her and Nolan so close together yet

nothing ever came out of it in the end.  I didn’t want him to get back

together with Laney in the end because it just didn’t seem right, they

didn’t seem happy together.  I sort of thought that Laney was just settling

for Nolan after Steve killed himself, like her real love interest was gone

so she just stayed with him because it was easy.  I guess in my head I had a

whole different ending planned out, Laney would end up with Steve and Nolan

would end up Alma and everyone would be happy, or at least satisfied.  I was

also curious to see whose baby Laney was carrying, because I highly doubt it

was Nolan’s, and I don’t see how he could not want to know, I don’t know how

he could just sit back and raise someone else’s kid.

      I found Steve Pitts’ character interesting because throughout the whole

book he was built up like he was a tough and hard character, and then in the

end when he killed himself he seemed more like a coward.  I also wasn’t

expecting him to kill himself either, especially not the way he chose to in

the book.  I was interesting though to see how the war had affected him, he

never really mentioned his war experiences until then.  When it comes right

down to it, the whole book is basically about how the war affected everyone

in a different way.  I think that Nolan’s character really grew a lot in

this book, he broke out of his shell and started to take advantage of his

life, instead of letting it take control of him.


~Amy Rodabaugh