Birdsong

by

Sebastian Faulks

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Michael Weir Character Analysis

A British soldier and commanding officer of the miners. Weir and Stephen form a close friendship and rely on each other during the darkest days of war. Weir is a kind but scared man, and Stephen’s superstitious card games give him something to believe in when life seems pointless. Weir is also a virgin when he arrives on the Front, and his fear of death and the sex challenges typical notions of masculinity. Despite his fear, Weir never falters during the war, and Stephen considers him the bravest man he knows. Sadly, Michael is shot and killed by an enemy sniper near the end of the war, and he is deeply mourned by Stephen.

Michael Weir Quotes in Birdsong

The Birdsong quotes below are all either spoken by Michael Weir or refer to Michael Weir. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
History and the Future Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Birdsong published in 1993.
Part Two: France 1916 Quotes

“No one in England knows what this is like. If they could see the way these men live they would not believe their eyes. This is not a war, this is an exploration of how far men can be degraded. I am deeply curious to see how much further it can be taken; I want to know. I believe that it has barely started. I believe that far worse things than we have seen will be authorized and will be carried out by millions of boys and men like my Tipper and your Firebrace. There is no depth to which they can’t be driven.”

Related Characters: Stephen Wraysford (speaker), Jack Firebrace, Michael Weir, Tipper
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Birdsong LitChart as a printable PDF.
Birdsong PDF

Michael Weir Character Timeline in Birdsong

The timeline below shows where the character Michael Weir appears in Birdsong. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part Two: France 1916
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
...is chipping away at. Turner, another miner, has heard enemy sounds further back and Captain Weir, the miners’ commanding officer, has called on Jack’s impeccable hearing to identify the noise—he is... (full context)
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
Turner claims that the sounds seem to be German digging, and Jack asks Weir to turn off the air-feed so that he can listen more closely. Jack determines the... (full context)
History and the Future Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
...sudden blast rocks the earth and collapses much of their tunnel. As Jack, Evans, and Weir are blown to the sides of the tunnel, broken and destroyed bodies are thrown through... (full context)
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
Weir approaches the men and orders Shaw and Tyson into the tunnel. Tyson had been previously... (full context)
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At his sentry post, Jack is exhausted and falls asleep without realizing it. Captain Weir walks by and discovers Jack’s dereliction of duty. “It’s a court-martial offence. See me tomorrow... (full context)
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
...When Jack arrives in the muddy hole that serves as the Lieutenant’s home, he finds Weir is already there. (full context)
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Lieutenant Wraysford declines to charge Jack and Weir doesn’t see the point in any further action. Wraysford tells Jack that he would like... (full context)
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The miners arrive in a small French village and Weir negotiates with a local farmer to secure them a barn to sleep in. In the... (full context)
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...night before they leave to go back to the trenches, the men gather for singing. Weir plays the piano and Jack tells jokes, and Weir finds it difficult to enjoy the... (full context)
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Sex and Gender Theme Icon
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Stephen has developed a close friendship with Weir, and because of this, he knows more about the miners than he does about his... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Later, Weir arrives in Stephen’s dugout. He has run out of whiskey and he knows that his... (full context)
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Stephen agrees and begins talking. He tells Weir that if the people back home in England saw some of the things they have... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Weir is disturbed by Stephen’s choice of topic and he quickly changes the subject. “I’ve never... (full context)
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Weir admits that he wants to know what sex is like but now it has “become... (full context)
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Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Weir engages the topic of love, and Stephen tells him about Isabelle. He says that after... (full context)
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Weir and Stephen run out to the trenches and begin digging through blown rock and dirt,... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Jack Firebrace has applied for leave to visit his sick son, but Weir denies him and instead orders him to begin a new tunnel. This time Jack will... (full context)
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That afternoon, Weir goes to see Captain Gray and requests for increased defense underground. Weir’s men are not... (full context)
Love and Hate Theme Icon
Meanwhile, at his usual billet, Weir tries not think about Stephen. He has heard nothing about his condition but he believes... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
Back at the Front, Stephen and Weir prepare to move out to Albert on Friday, and Stephen promises to take him into... (full context)
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Later that evening, Stephen and Weir take a motorbike into town, and when they arrive outside the brothel, Weir becomes uncomfortable.... (full context)
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An older woman arrives and leads Weir to the back of the establishment, and Stephen is left alone. When Weir returns, he... (full context)
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
The next day Weir receives new orders. They are to march to an unspecified billet, and move on to... (full context)
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
Stephen notices Tipper “smiling madly” in the sea of men, and he notices Weir standing with the miners. Stephen yells to ask Weir if he will be with them... (full context)
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...nowhere and strikes Stephen in the temple. He wakes sometime later to Tyson, one of Weir’s miners, bandaging his wounds. “They stopped attacking,” Tyson says. He tells Stephen he has only... (full context)
History and the Future Theme Icon
Nature, War, and Morality Theme Icon
Weir starts to shake. The guns have stopped, yet he still asks Stephen if he can... (full context)
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As Weir cries, he asks Stephen to hold him and call him by his name. Stephen pulls... (full context)
Part Four: France 1917
Sex and Gender Theme Icon
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Ellis tells Stephen that the tunnel head is nearby, and that Captain Weir is there. When Stephen goes to see Weir, the men behave awkwardly and don’t shake... (full context)
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Weir has just returned back to the Front from England. At home in Leamington Spa, Weir’s... (full context)
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Weir tried to tell his parents about the war; however, his father interrupted him. “We’ve read... (full context)
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Back on at the Front, Weir asks Stephen to tell his fortune. Stephen orders one of the men to bring him... (full context)
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Stephen tells Weir that his horoscope is wonderful—only he should stay away from priests and women. Weir’s cards... (full context)
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Stephen denies fixing the cards and asks Weir why he wants to survive so badly. Weir tells him all he has is his... (full context)
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Weir tells Stephen about his visit to England and the disappointment that is his family. Weir... (full context)
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As the men talk, Stephen tells Weir that he continues to fight not for England and those living back home, but for... (full context)
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Stephen becomes “drunk and confessional” and tells Weir about using magic and superstition as a child. He tells Weir that he wanted to... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Weir’s company is working on a shallow tunnel, and they hear German activity nearby. He orders... (full context)
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“I knew this would happen,” Weir says. Stephen agrees to go in the tunnel with him. Not even the stretcher-bearers will... (full context)
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Weir and Stephen quickly come upon the end of the tunnel. There should be at least... (full context)
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...two men must turn around to exit the tunnel, but there is not room, so Weir crawls over Stephen to get ahead of him. His pick dislodges the disturbed dirt and... (full context)
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In the small collapse, the bird is lost. Weir begins to panic; letting a canary go free in a tunnel is an automatic court-martial.... (full context)
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Gray asks Stephen if he is still performing card tricks. He admits to entertaining Weir, but no one else. Gray asks him if he believes in it himself, and Stephen... (full context)
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...but they have refused to go without him. Stephen suggests they all go. He orders Weir to come along and bring an extra man. Both Ellis and Weir are angry and... (full context)
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...parts. One man named Brennan even uncovers the body of his brother. After they return, Weir asks Stephen if this is what his father has in mind when he says that... (full context)
Love and Hate Theme Icon
...forced leave. He stops and writes a letter to Jeanne, telling her that other than Weir, she is the only friend he has. He tears it up and instead sends her... (full context)
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...to go, and in the end, he decides to head toward Norfolk, a place that Weir talks about occasionally. His first stop is to shop for clothes—most of what he had... (full context)
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As Stephen waits to launch the raid, Weir comes to visit him. As usual, Weir is upset and scared. He tells Stephen that... (full context)
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Weir is “startled and downcast,” and he attempts to tell Stephen how important he has been... (full context)
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Meanwhile, Jack and the other miners remain in the trenches. As Weir approaches them, Jack notices that the sandbags have not been properly placed. Before he is... (full context)
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When word reaches Stephen of Weir’s death, he is struck by a profound sadness. He thinks of the last time he... (full context)
Part Six: France 1918
Love and Hate Theme Icon
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When Stephen returns to the front line, the man who has taken Weir’s position with the miners asks him to go in the tunnels. His men must enlarge... (full context)