Journey to the End of the Night Themes

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Nationalism

Nationalism, a modern idea, holds that the nation is a fundamental unit of social life. The system of nations took shape largely in the 19th century and contributed to the World Wars of the 20th century. Dying gloriously for one's country or returning home a hero motivated many men to join the military service. Without a feeling of national patriotism, the strength of a country is weakened. However, this sense of patriotism can also be exploited by unjust wars or incompetent leadership.

In Celine's day, nationalism was used to justify sending millions of young men to slaughter for miniscule gains in territory. Some of the toughest French troops made a famous protest when, unable to mutiny, they made sounds like sheep as they marched to their deaths. Using citizens as soldiers, instead of hired mercenaries, was first suggested by the 16th century political writer Machiavelli, who argued that...

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This section contains 998 words
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Buy the Journey to the End of the Night Study Guide
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