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A Tidewater Morning

A Tidewater Morning

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Published by OpenRoadMedia
William Styron's A Tidewater Morning contains three autobiographically inspired novellas about a young writer's journey to adulthood coming of age during the Great Depression and Second World War. They convey a writer's struggle to cope with his mother’s terminal cancer, his view of the strained racial relations in the pre-war American South, and his anxiety as a marine preparing to land on the beaches of Okinawa.
William Styron's A Tidewater Morning contains three autobiographically inspired novellas about a young writer's journey to adulthood coming of age during the Great Depression and Second World War. They convey a writer's struggle to cope with his mother’s terminal cancer, his view of the strained racial relations in the pre-war American South, and his anxiety as a marine preparing to land on the beaches of Okinawa.

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Published by: OpenRoadMedia on Jun 12, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/20/2013

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A TIDEWATER MORNINGBy William StyronLOVE DAY
O
n April Fool’s Day, 1945 (which was also Easter Sunday), the SecondMarine Division, in which Doug Stiles and I were platoon leaders, made anassault on the southeast coast of Okinawa. Actually this was a fake assault,and we had problems about that. Anyway, on the same day, fifteen miles tothe north, the First and Sixth Marine divisions, together with two Armydivisions, moved ashore in an area of the island coast known as the Hagushi beaches, where the troops met no resistance on a clear, balmy springmorning. Okinawa was the last stepping-stone before the Japanese mainland.It was by far the largest invasion since the landing in Normandy, and themost massive operation of the Pacific war. Although the enemy didn’t makean appearance during the first few days, the Japanese and American troopseventually clashed with enormous violence, producing more casualties on both sides than any other campaign in the Pacific. But this took place weekslater.Stiles and I were both lean, mean, splendidly trained younglieutenants, hungry for Japanese heads. Together we had learned to becomeinfantry officers at Camp Lejeune, at Quantico, in the boondocks around SanDiego, and finally on Saipan—the divisional staging area for the assault on
 
 
Okinawa. We were weapons experts, knew the subtleties of infantry tactics,all the tricks of cover and concealment, night fighting, bayonet fighting,knife fighting, ground-to-air communication—everything. We could with noqueasiness whatever handle grenades and high explosives. We possessed beautifully honed killers’ skills, waiting to be tried. We were proud of the powers of leadership that would make us able to goad several dozen troopsthrough enemy fire over terrain of every type of wetness and dryness andalien loathsomeness. As physical specimens we were also appallingly fit.Lolling these later years before the flickering tube, I have viewedgolden lads in the surf or snow, twisting and swerving with the grace of antelopes; this may cause me a twitch of nostalgia, but also an admirationtotally ungrudging, since I can truthfully say, “Paul Whitehurst was oncelike that.” Never again in my life would my health have such incandescenceas it did at twenty. The ambition of my years of puberty—when I wasliterally and disgracefully a ninety-eight-pound weakling—was finallyachieved: I had real muscles, and I knew how to use them. I smokedcigarettes, but so did nearly all Marines, and this seemed to have no effecton my senses, which responded as delicately to the ambient air as those of anApache scout. Over all this manly pulchritude was spread a patina of goldensuntan. I was the ideal size for a Marine platoon leader, which is to say tall but not excessively so, well fleshed but not brawny: guys that were too bigmade a fine target for a Jap bullet.Stiles had always been a natural athlete—among other things, achampion swimmer at Yale—and therefore had had no need to gloat,as I did, over the supple strength we had gained from unending hours

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