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Ernest H. Griffin’s “The Oasis: Africa”

Throughout world history, wartime has always been considered as the darkest and most dooming time for the world community. However, modern textbooks are not capable of expressing the actual feeling of terror and trembling fear people lived through during those years. To bring modern generations closer to their ancestors’ history, there is now an increasing demand for the belles-lettres works that depict the period of wars. In the course of this paper, an attempt will be made to analyze Ernest H. Griffin’s The Oasis: Africa on the subject of its main idea and means of its literary expression.

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To begin with, The Oasis: Africa was first published in 1916 in a magazine collecting the poems and essays written by British soldiers during WWI. The author, Ernest H. Griffin, was a captain in the British Royal Army medical unit. The primary purpose of the piece was to describe the thrilling trip to the Sahara desert with an army line. The description of the trip is a reflection of the overall miserable state of the military during the war. For example, in the line “misery of hunger, torture of thirst; unending discomfort of swarming lice,” the author reflects upon the struggle British soldiers experienced during every single day at war (Treves & Goodchild, 1916, p. 39). Everyday battle with fear of facing death can be traced in words “this was a day when fear laid his hand upon us when each of us felt the knife at his throat” (Treves & Goodchild, 1916, p, 39). A knife in the throat, implying the parched throat, represents the seconds of facing the end of one’s life in the frontline.

There is hardly anything more appalling in the world than the war that takes millions of lives in a matter of days. People who managed to survive the experience both physically and emotionally deserve to be heard by the generations saved by the brave. The Oasis: Africa is a vivid example of how a metaphorical story about the trip to the desert explains the feelings of a plain soldier who had no other choice but to wander towards death.


Treves, F., & Goodchild, G. (Eds.). (1916). Made in the trenches, composed entirely from articles & sketches contributed by soldiers. Allen & Unwin.

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