I know this is a bit late, but seeing as how we haven’t yet talked about how the novel comments on WWI and the effects it had in the lives of those who lived at that time, I thought it would be worth my while to add my thoughts. Like many people have already said, Woolf only directly addresses the war in very short and abrupt sentences (almost like footnotes that are placed in brackets merely to help the reader follow along), but she intimates elements of the war throughout the entire “Time Passes” section. She does this primarily by focusing on the weather and the different elements of the various seasons (and how they progress), as well as the power of nature to both destroy and create. By describing the changing seasons and clashing elements of nature from the perspective of the house that is slowly decaying, Woolf is possibly suggesting the idea that mankind is slowly falling apart; the framework and structure that has held civilization together for so long is deteriorating, with nature threatening to take over.
As armies and nations are fighting off the narrative stage, Woolf parallels this action by way of the wind and the waves. She tells of how storms cause the “winds and waves [to] disport themselves like the amorphous bulks of leviathans whose brows are pierced by no light of reason, and mounted one on top of another, and lunged and plunged in the darkness or the daylight (for night and day, month and year ran shapelessly together) in idiot games, until it seemed as if the universe were battling and tumbling, in brute confusion and wanton lust aimlessly by itself” (134-135). [Apologies for the lengthy quote; you can blame Woolf for stringing together such long sentences that still manage to contain important and poignant phrases at every turn.] This massive clash between the wind and the waves highlights the sweeping scope of the war abroad. Using a metaphor within a metaphor, Woolf furthers the image by comparing the two sides to a “bulk of leviathans” who have “no light of reason” in their heads; in essence: the war is a fool’s endeavor and makes no sense to a rational human being. I also found it interesting how she talked of the days and nights running together, and I was reminded of our readings about trench life and how it dragged on endlessly; and how the soldiers suffered tremendously from lack of sleep, the noise from the artillery fire and bombs (the wind and the waves here), and the despicable living conditions. The First World War, or the “idiot games,” as Woolf prefers to call it, caused great turmoil and confusion everywhere it went.