Pacifism & Conscientious Objection in Canada, 1914-1918

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"Prof. Zavitz Quits as Acting President," Toronto Globe, 1915.

Over the course of the war, more than 20,000 trials were held in Canada relating in some way to opposition to the war. Crimes ranged from civilians’ possession of banned (i.e., anti-war) literature to soldiers’ desertions. Repression of dissent in Canada was considerable, greater even than in Great Britain. Nor did those who refused to participate in the war effort escape the disdain of their fellow citizens who did.

This scorn manifested itself in many ways: giving out white feathers (as a sign of cowardice) to non-enlisted young men of age to fight; believing that a person's lack of enthusiasm for war was a sign of their being "Hun-loving" and unpatriotic; or assuming that pacifists were, quite simply, morally corrupt.

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"Disaster Bear's out Embassy's Warning," New York Times, May 8, 1915.


The character of Mr. Josiah Pryor, often referred to as "Whiskers-on-the-moon," is the novel's only character to be clearly identified as a pacifist. His role is largely as comedic relief and, very much in keeping with the prevailing sentiment during the war, presents an harshly unsympathetic portrayal of pacifists.

The fact that throughout the novel he is more often than not referred to as "Whiskers-on-the-moon"a reference to his face being very round and red and fringed with stubby hairalready desensitizes readers from treating him like the others. This case examines the representation of his character to illustrate common perceptions during the war of those who opposed it.

Pacifism & Conscientious Objection in Canada, 1914-1918
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