This chapter describes how army training between 1917 and 1919 also billeted a sheltered and privileged class of aspiring writers alongside other social strata and ethnic groups. The mobilized soldier of 1918, as both writer and subject, is a key figure in the emergence of the new literary culture of postwar America. Whether he represents the random victimization of the individual by the grotesque forces of society, government, and circumstance, or the creative defiance of the imaginative mind against conformity, the soldier provides the model for a new kind of antihero in American discourse—both fictional and poetic. His existential conundrum as an individual who has signed away his individuality opens up new and disturbing angles from which to explore the nature of consciousness or the position of the self in society—angles which are exploited in the work of later writers.
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