A Comparison Of James Douglas Starkie And Passport To Hell

1490 Words 6 Pages
James Douglas Stark – known as Starkie, a non-fictional war serviceman – becomes a conflict to nationalism’s omnipresence in New Zealand literature of the 1930s. Robin Hyde adopts a realist approach to James Mulgan’s Man Alone; by developing the article ‘Starkie’ Outlaw of N.Z.E.F. into the novel Passport to Hell. Passport to Hell differs from the regular “Kiwi bloke” stereotype, by retelling Starkie’s – a man who was not typically a hero – war experience. Starkie does not fit the stereotypes of either Māori or Pākehā, allowing Hyde to go outside the terrain of New Zealand literature’s nationalism. Therefore, Starkie portrayed a reality for “the outsider” in New Zealand society in the 1930s. Hyde in comparison to other New Zealand writers Frank …show more content…
Hyde portrays Starkie as a “serviceman with a fund of good stories, and a string of convictions for darkness, petty theft, and assault” (Calder, 67). Stereotypes are inherently problematic for a novel about war, but this helps Starkie tell his story of being “the outsider”. War novels are supposed to be heroic and captivating. With certainty, Hyde lets Starkie speak for himself (Murray, 178). Hyde uses Starkie to portray the reality of “the outsider” rather than creating a nationalistic, hero who adheres to societal expectations – and the stereotype of a hero. Furthermore, Starkie is not labelled as a hero because of his tendency for delinquent behaviour. Also, Hyde is making a point that the Man Alone figure is unrealistic; Starkie carried twenty injured men on his back through “No Man’s Land” (107) yet is unconsidered as a hero. Ultimately, Hyde identifies the issue of the hero stereotype being bound to positive connotations only, because Starkie was – controversially – a hero. Starkie was indubitably brave enough to be labelled a hero, yet his prison sentences ensured he was not associated with the …show more content…
Also, evidence implicates Starkie as the anti-hero and not the Man Alone. For example, page one-hundred and seventy-four palpably note Starkie as the anti-hero. Starkie had been recommended for the V.C., the highest medal of honour, but his criminal past proves he is unworthy of appraisal. Ironically Starkie manages to do something heroic to wheedle his way out of his conflicts with authority. Although, he manages to work his way back to trouble because the conflict is in his nature. Notably, Starkie was court-martialled nine times and amassed sentences totalling thirty-five years’ penal servitude, although his gallantry in action cancelled out most of his crimes (Calder, 67). The only type of appraisal Starkie was worthy of, was lessening his sentence time. Therefore, Starkie’s inability to expel his delinquency – and support his heroism – embodies Starkie as the anti-hero. In fact, Starkie was referred several times for the V.C. (Hyde, Boddy, Matthews, 294) which indicates he was capable of heroism. Although, as an anti-hero, Starkie does not exemplify the ideal V.C. contender. His recommendation proves he is heroic but unworthy of the recognition. Also, Hyde states “headquarters did not consider it ideal for a soldier to win his country's highest honour, while on probation for a proud and picturesque crime-sheet” (174). Moreover, the unfollowed through recognition

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