Birdsong

by

Sebastian Faulks

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The son of Jack Firebrace and Margaret Firebrace. John is of “frail mind and body,” and he dies of diphtheria while Jack is away at war. In 1978, Elizabeth Benson names her own son John to honor the promise her grandfather made to Jack; as Jack dies in the trenches, Stephen promises to have children on his behalf.
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John Character Timeline in Birdsong

The timeline below shows where the character John appears in Birdsong. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part Two: France 1916
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
Abandoning sleep, Jack reads the letter from Margaret and learns that his son, John, has fallen ill with diphtheria. Margaret was nearly forty when the boy was born, and... (full context)
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Jack Firebrace finds solace in thoughts of his son. The love he feels for John “redeems his view of human life and gives substance to this faith in God.” The... (full context)
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
...it shake his faith. He prays to thank God for the time he had with John, but no words come. He sobs. (full context)
Part Four: France 1917
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
...news. He had no reason to think that his dear friend would survive when even John was dead. Still, Jack is determined to honor him, and he tips a glass in... (full context)
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
...pencil drawings of Stephen. He can’t bring himself to sketch Shaw, and he can’t “remember John’s face well enough to draw it.” (full context)
Part Six: France 1918
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
...be with, like that, always, do you mean?” Stephen answers yes, and Jack immediately says John. He tells Stephen about his son, his great love for him, and the sadness he... (full context)
Part Seven: England 1979
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...Stephen wrote about being trapped with a man named Jack who has a son called John, and in the exchange he writes, “I said I would have his.” Elizabeth is perplexed. (full context)
History and the Future Theme Icon
...boy is placed in Elizabeth’s arms. She tells Robert that she wants to name him John, “a promise made by her grandfather.” (full context)
History and the Future Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
...has waited for this day since he was a boy himself, and now there is John, “his boy, another chance.” Robert throws the chestnut into the air in his “great happiness,”... (full context)