Study Guide

How I Live Now Warfare

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I didn't spend much time thinking about the war because I was bored with everyone jabbering on for about the last five years about Would There Be One or Wouldn't There and I happen to know there wasn't anything we could do about it anyway so why even bring the subject up. (1.4.24)

Sound familiar? Daisy's initial attitude toward the war probably resembles that of most young people who live outside war zones. Daisy doesn't see the point in talking about it, just like plenty of people in the real world.

Of course everyone was talking about food shortages and shutting down transportation and calling up all the able-bodied men and basically all the Gloom and Doom stuff they could possibly think up […] asking anyone they could drag off the street Whether This Meant War and then we had to listen to all the solemn experts pretending to have the inside track when any one of them would have given his left arm to know the game plan himself. (1.6.15)

Daisy's thoughts toward the war still can probably be best summed up in an eye roll, and here she gives a scathing critique of newscasters, essentially saying they're filled with hot air.

No matter how much you put on a sad expression and talked about how awful it was that all those people were killed and what about democracy and the Future of Our Great Nation the fact that none of us kids said out loud was that WE DIDN'T REALLY CARE. Most of the people who got killed were either old like our parents so they'd had good lives already, or people who worked in banks and were pretty boring anyway, or other people we didn't know. (1.9.19)

Wow, way harsh. Daisy's brutally honest rant on the war touches on something that is probably a pretty universal feeling among people not directly affected by the wars going on in our world, but a sentiment that most would never admit aloud. And since this is a novel and not reality, we know that right about the time someone doesn't give a hoot about something because it doesn't affect them is when it totally begins to. Foreshadowing for the win.

Every war has turning points, and every person too. (1.15.1)

And… there we go. You knew that pesky little war was eventually going to interfere with the idyllic lives of the English cousins, didn't you? It's about the halfway point of Part 1 of this novel, and this line gives us the foreboding sense that everything's about to change and the war is coming closer to home.

It was more or less a known fact that the whole situation was temporary and by the time the British Forces could get organized again it would all be over and the Occupiers would be History, i.e., dead, but I guess the invaders were trying to Make a Point and had never really expected it to turn out happily ever after for them. (1.17.21)

Daisy, now immersed in the war, makes a point about how pointless and futile the violence and endless turmoil can seem. What's the point of entering a war that you know your side will lose? Is making a point really worth all these lives?

What impressed me was how simple it seemed to be to throw a whole country into chaos by dumping a bunch of poison into some of the water supplies and making sure no one could get electricity or phone connections and setting off a few big bombs here and there in tunnels and government buildings and airports. (1.17.23)

Yeah, no big deal, it looks so easy—let's all just start wars (j/k). Daisy does make a good point about how dependent we are on technology, however. Even without the poison and bombs, cutting off communication technology would throw a country completely into chaos.

First he turned to us and said in a voice that sounded broke and full of rage, In case anyone needed reminding This is a War. And the way he said those words made me feel like I was falling. (1.20.27)

Could there be any more contrast between these lines and Daisy's initial thoughts about the war? We don't think so. At this point, she's just witnessed a coworker and the man who's housing them get shot in the head. Gone are the days of not caring—the war is right in front of Daisy and she begins to feel guilty about the things she thought before.

If you haven't been in a war and are wondering how long it takes to get used to losing everything you think you need or love, I can tell you the answer is No time at all. (1.21.23)

And here we have Daisy's acknowledgment about how wrong she was, how quickly things change, and how rapidly one can get used to the new reality of war, loss, and pain. She addresses these thoughts to anyone who hasn't been in a war, as a cautionary tale for believing what she did only a few short weeks/chapters ago.

When the stink hit you it was like nothing you ever smelled before and when you hear people say something smells like death trust them because that's the only way to describe what it smells like, putrid and rotting and so foul your stomach tries to vault out through your throat. (1.26.13)

The smelliest and most heartbreaking moment of the war so far for Daisy is arriving at the farm where Edmond and Isaac are supposed to be and finding nothing but dead bodies, massacred in cold blood. And then, of course, she has to search them to see if the people she loves are among them. Ugh. This moment represents the climax of war for Daisy, and from this point forward, things begin to improve.

You couldn't tell the Good Guys from the Bad Guys and neither could they. […] You could ask a thousand people on seven continents what it was all about and you wouldn't get the same answer twice; nobody really knew for sure but you could bet one or more of the following words would crop up: oil, money, land, sanctions, democracy. (2.3.16)

Daisy's discussing the end of World War III here, but her words could easily be applied to almost any major world conflict—the same themes keep cropping up and people keep fighting over them. Though Daisy is making a point about the futility of war, she sounds detached, as though living through it has exhausted her thoughts on war.

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