The Naked and the Dead

What is the author's style in The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer?

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Mailer structured The Naked and the Dead to include not only the story of the armed conflict on the mythical Japanese-held island of Anopopei during World War II, but also the stories of each of the main characters involved in the struggle. He often breaks his main narrative with "Time Machine" vignettes of the past history of these men to provide readers with important information about their characters. This episodic structure illuminates character motivation and development; as a result, it also helps set up the novel's central conflicts and thematic concerns.

The episodic structure of the novel functions to sustain its Weltanschauung, or "world view", in this case, a naturalistic impression of the forces that continually frustrate human will and action. Naturalism is a term used for a group of writers, including Stephen Crane, Frank Norns, and John Dos Passos, whose works reflect a pessimistic view of the nature of experience. The naturalistic view proposes that humans are controlled by their heredity and environment and so cannot exercise free will.


The Naked and the Dead