Study Guide

From Here to Eternity Warfare

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HOLMES: You might as well say stop war because one man got killed.

This is Holmes' callous remark after Prewitt tells him that he quit boxing because he accidentally blinded his friend in the ring. Obviously, they're two completely different situations: boxing is recreational and worth quitting once someone dies. But war is often a struggle for survival, and Prewitt tries to play his part when war with Japan finally breaks out.

ANDERSON: Sounds like they're dynamiting down at Wheeler Field.

BUCKLEY: Mighty ambitious. Sunday morning before—"

This is how the Pearl Harbor attack breaks out. The soldiers are caught totally off guard and misinterpret what's happening, assuming some innocuous military exercise rather than a sneak attack.

RADIO ANNOUNCER'S VOICE: ...This is a real attack, not a maneuver. The Japanese are bombing Pearl Harbor. Please keep in your homes. Do not go on the streets. This is a real attack. Japanese planes are bombing our naval and army installations.

The announcer is warning the people in Honolulu not to go outside. Even though the Japanese were specifically attacking a military installation, avoiding civilian casualties wasn't exactly high on their list of priorities.

WARDEN: You'll get plenty of chances to be heroes with Japs in your lap before tonight.

The term "Jap" is a highly unpleasant slur, but was used constantly during World War II to refer to the Japanese. Unfortunately, it's a common tactic throughout history to call your opponents names during wars.

PREWITT: Who do they think they're fighting? They're picking trouble with the best Army in the world.

Prewitt's pride in the military remains unabated. Even though the army's personally treated him really badly, when wartime comes, Prewitt is completely willing to leave his AWOL status (after the knife fight) and try to join in. It's a testament to his deep and abiding loyalty.

WARDEN: Sir, this man was a good soldier. He loved the Army more than any soldier I ever knew. I would like to make a formal request that this body be buried in the Army's permanent cemetery at Schofield Barracks.

Warden pays tribute to Prewitt's service. By trying to rejoin his troops after killing Judson in a knife fight, being wounded, and going AWOL, Prewitt demonstrates how absolute his love for the army really is—he sacrificed his life for it, inadvertently.

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