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Main Features Depicted In Bastogne

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Wars of the Internal and External

“Bastogne” contains an abundance of archetypes and symbols, as well as Jung’s theory of The Shadow. All of such are used to compare the external war of the Battle of the Bulge to protagonist Eugene Roe’s internal struggles with emotional distance and personal belonging in Easy Company. The Forest Archetype, much like the Shadow of the mind, represents the unknown. It is a place of hidden dangers and perils, where one must undergo testing and initiation. To cross this threshold symbol is to enter the realm of death, where there is no light nor insight, allowing mankind to be lost in darkness without divine direction. This correlates with the ever-present threat of German attacks looming over the troops of Easy Company as they attempt to secure Bastogne, in addition to the limitations they already face with artillery and equipment shortages. The physical setting also pertains to Jung’s theory of The Shadow, as the war itself forces both American and German soldiers to confront the harsh reality of death. In journeying into the depths of the battlefield, the soldiers are simultaneously journeying into the violent, animal instincts of their minds. While some, such as Buck Compton, struggle to retain their sense of Self, it is through emerging from these battles that rebirth and renewal are achieved, as implied by the spring that follows the harsh winter.

To emphasize this process as it occurs within Eugene and the other members of Easy Company, a number of effective symbols are also employed. The weapons, tanks, and dive bombers represent the monsters, ogres, dragons, and cyclops. These are the unsightly, often repressed things that lurk in The Shadow. Conversely, the chocolate shared between Renee, Eugene, and the rest of Easy Company is a show of companionship, symbolizing the presence of joy and camaraderie even during the bleakest times. Hands are another greatly significant symbol in “Bastogne” as Eugene likens Renee to his grandmother given how they use their hands to heal in similar ways. While Renee only sees the evidence of inexperience through her bloodstained fingers, Eugene sees great faith and sacrifice in the service Renee has provided to the sick and injured. This marks the beginning of Renee’s influence on Eugene and how she aids him in rediscovering his sense of purpose as a member of Easy Company. Renee’s kerchief is also revealed to be immensely symbolic by the end of “Bastogne”. Aside from the association of its color—blue—with the Virgin Mary, Eugene’s decision to use it as a bandage, instead of preserving it as a keepsake, represents his reinstated determination to carry forward his role as the medic. Although Renee is no longer physically with Eugene, her spirit is preserved in his drive to immerse himself into his place as part of Easy Company, thus motivating Eugene to let go of his emotional reservations.

The aforementioned characters, Renee and Eugene, are powerful representations of Jungian archetypes as well. Renee, the Christ-like antagonist, is the Helper Maiden to Eugene’s Hero figure. Though pure and beautiful, her purpose as an archetype is not fulfilled through romance, but through her provision of assistance to Eugene. Fighting an internal battle of her own, Renee struggles to juggle between her Ego and Shadow. This is shown through her internalized debate on whether helping others or her concern towards Eugene is more important. Similarly, as the army medic and Hero figure, Eugene’s greatest struggle is coping with all the devastation and loss around him, which results in his habit of getting lost within himself. Every day, he and Renee fight an unending battle to save others from death as best as they can, and therefore understand each other’s struggles. It is with these inner dilemmas and this sense of mutual understanding that Eugene learns to become less emotionally detached from those around him, especially the rest of Easy Company. Therefore, he finally finds personal acceptance, acceptance among the members of Easy Company, and a renewed sense of Self, all the while the war of the external world rages on.

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