Home > Uncategorized > Nathanael West: Not their fault, they thought they had bombed a hospital

Nathanael West: Not their fault, they thought they had bombed a hospital

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Nathanael West: Selections on war

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Nathanael West
From Good Hunting (1938)

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GERALD
(To JARVIS)

This is exciting – my first experience under fire!

JARVIS

We’re going splendidly!

FIZTSIMMONS
(Snapping)

We always get this far!

GERALD

It gives you a queer sensation not to hear the firing…

FITZSIMMONS

Cup your hand over your ear…

(GERALD does so)

That humming noise…like a swarm of bees.

GERALD
(Excited)

Yes…I hear it!

FITZSIMMONS

That’s the war.

***

FITZSIMMONS

Sounds like a German…a Taub bomber…

GRACE
(Not frightened)

Oh, will he drop something on us?

HARGREAVES

No – certainly not – we have an unwritten agreement with the enemy – we don’t bomb each other’s staffs.

(Suddenly there is a tremendous explosion – a part of the ceiling falls with a crash)

HARGREAVES
(Great indignation)

The barbarians!

AD LIB FROM THE OFFICERS

The dirty Boches!
Scoundrels!
Bombing staff headquarters!
Unheard of!
What treachery!
The blackguards!

(FITZSIMMONS rushes to door and shouts outside as others mill around)

AD LIB

The dirty dogs!
Ill-mannered louts!
What’s the war coming to!

HRAGREAVES

Are they mad – bombing the staff!

(FITZSIMMONS appears at the door again)

FITZSIMMONS

It’s not their fault!

HARGREAVES

What!

FITZSIMMONS

We forgot to take the red cross off the roof! They thought the place was still a hospital.

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