Bells Screamed all off key, wrangling together as they collided in midair, horns and whistles mingled shrilly with cries of human distress; sulphur-colored light ex-ploded through the black windowpane and flashed away in darkness. Miranda waking from a dreamless sleep asked without expecting an answer, “What is happening?” for there was a bustle of voices and footsteps in the corridor, and a sharpness in the air; the far clamour went on, a furious exasperated shrieking like a mob in revolt.The light came on, and Miss Tanner said in a furry voice, “Hear that? They’re celebrating . It’s the Armistice. The war is over, my dear.” Her hands trembled. She rattled a spoon in a cup, stopped to listen, held the cup out to Miranda. From the ward for old bedridden women down the hall floated a ragged chorus of cracked voices singing, “My country, ’tis of thee…”Sweet land… oh terrible land of this bitter world where the sound of rejoicing was a clamour of pain, where ragged tuneless old women, sitting up waiting for their evening bowl of cocoa, were singing, “Sweet land of Liberty-”“Oh, say, can you see?” their hopeless voices were asking next, the hammer strokes of metal tongues drowning them out. “The war is over,” said Miss Tanner, her underlap held firmly, her eyes blurred. Miranda said, “Please open the window, please, I smell death in here.
HYPERAROUSALAfter a traumatic experience, the human system of self-preservation seems to go onto permanent alert, as if the danger might return at any moment. Physiological arousal continues unabated. In this state of hyerarousal, which is the first cardinal symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder, the traumatized person startles easily, reacts irritably to small provocations, and sleeps poorly. Kardiner propsed that "the nucleus of the [traumatic] neurosis is physioneurosis."8 He believed that many of the symptoms observed in combat veterans of the First World War-startle reactions, hyperalertness, vigilance for the return of danger, nightmares, and psychosomatic complaints-could be understood as resulting from chronic arousal of the autonomic nervous system. He also interpreted the irritability and explosively aggressive behavior of traumatized men as disorganized fragments of a shattered "fight or flight" response to overwhelming danger.