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Analysisof the Three Works of Literature
Literature refers to the spoken as well as written material thatneeds the author to have the technical knowledge on a concept or evenapply creativity in improving the issues (Hermans, 26). In fact,literature has been used to address themes in the nation that talkabout the daily life. In the process, films, books, stories, and poemhave also criticized people and organizations that had engaged insome inappropriate activities. Hence, writing is a tool that informsthe society of the changes needed and it also raises awareness onvarious practices. This essay will look at three literature worksthat will evaluate the reality associated with the patriotism and thesoldiers in the war.
Patriotism is a concept that has been associated with the loyaltythat people have towards their nation. For instance, most countrieshave often associated the disloyalty with traitors and everyone willstrive to prove that they value the government and its people(Brewer, 127). Literature has also been used to address the conceptof patriotism where they have highlighted various issues that arisein such situations. In this case, the soldiers are the individualsthat are mostly associated with the patriotism since they risk theirlives as they fight for the nation. More important, the story TheThings They Carried by Tim O’Brien, the poem Dulce etDecorum Est that is written by Wilfred Owen’s and StevenSpielberg’s film known as Saving Private Ryan captures thetheme of patriotism in the nation. However, the creators portrayanother side of the issue where the soldiers are exposed to theterror, emotional turmoil, death and the injuries too. In fact, theauthors reveal that the soldiers end up facing multiple challenges,yet, the government has ignored them. In most cases, the wars aredeclared by the leaders that have other selfish agendas that thesoldiers do not understand. The three works of literature insist thatpatriotism is just a misguided ideology that makes soldiers serve thenation at the expense of their well-being. Hence, the creators exposethe reality that occurs in the war, and they warn others againstfollowing the assumption of patriotism blindly before they assess thetruth in such concepts.
Wilfred Owen’s poem Dulce et Decorum Est captures patriotismin an engaging way that enlightens the society of the things that thesoldiers undergo in foreign lands. In this case, the poem reveals theprocess of fighting for the nation is not more heroic as most peoplesuggest. In fact, Owen takes people into the war zone where they areable to understand the reality that is way different from the imagespainted back at home. More important, it also suggests that the frontis more deadly and the soldiers are forced to rely on othertechniques to fight. Some of the soldiers do not remember why theyare in the war since they are just working on the orders of theirleaders. Unfortunately, most of the soldiers are even promoting thenational glory at the expense of their youth. It seems like they areblinded by the inappropriate ideologies that do not consider theirlives as being important. In particular, Owen paints patriotism as aconcept that is misinterpreted since the soldiers end up facing adifficult time yet, the heroic image they have does not match theirexperience in the battle zone (Owen, lines 25-28). The leaders simplycherish the soldiers because of their participation in the war whilesome of them do not have a slight idea why they are fighting. Some ofthem are in the war since they want to earn an income and themilitary is the only place where they were accepted hence,patriotism might have less influence in their actions.
The poem represents the theme of patriotism quite perfectly, and itreveals the reasons that make it seem like a misguided concept. Itcaptures the pain and the suffering that the soldiers have to dealwith. Owen uses the poem to define some of the deformities that thesoldiers undergo while they are in the battle zone. Some of them areleft without legs, hands, eyes, and they still have to deal with theemotional turmoil (Owen, lines 7-8). More important, the poem definespatriotism clearly and shows that the soldiers tend to face adifficult time in the war zone since they have to deal with thevarious challenges such as death and injuries.
The poem also illustrates different versions of reality that insistson the pain and suffering that the soldiers undergo in the war zone.In this case, the civilians and leaders back at home tend to believethat the soldiers are experienced and have the skills to defeat theirenemies. Most of the civilians do not acknowledge the horror of thebattle since they are blinded by the honor associated with thesoldiers. At times, the trauma even affects the soldiers, and theyend up being unable to express how they feel about the entirearrangement. To some extent, Owen uses the poem to insist that honor,duty, and patriotism are just fallacious assumptions that areexaggerated. Hence, the terror of the war does not consider love,respect or even unity that might exist between the two sides.
The Things they Carried by Tim O’Brien presents a uniqueperspective on the theme of patriotism. In this case, the author usesa story of soldiers in a battle as an example that will reveal howthe argument works. In particular, the narration insists that thesoldiers undergo emotional turmoil, injuries, and fear while they arein the war. On the other hand, the society believes that they arecourageous people that have the required skills to defeat theenemies. In fact, most of the civilians even think that the soldiersare motivated by the ideologies of honor and patriotism yet, that isnot (O`brien, 56). O’Brien insists that the soldier does not onlycarry the physical but, also the emotional burdens that are caused bythe trauma and loneliness that they undergo while they are on thebattlefield. For instance, the terror, grief, and longing haveresulted in some of the soldiers living in loneliness. Unfortunately,they do not have support programs to support them while they are inthe war and that undermines their health. Instead, they want toprotect their reputation since back home they are regarded as heroesand the real patriots. However, they are serving their nation at theexpense of their health and the emotional wellbeing. Henry Dobbinseven goes to the war with his girlfriend’s pantyhose to get thecomfort that he will be missing during the entire period (O`brien,57). Besides that, it is also a sign of weakness to display any fearbased on the conditions in the war field. Hence, the author assertsthat patriotism is nothing like people imagine. These soldiersundergo various challenges in order to save them from the emotionalturmoil and need to keep a brave face even if the situation presentsotherwise.
More important, it is evident that the fear of being embarrassed isone of the things that motivate them to perform and not patriotism.It seems like the soldiers are focused on other issues that influencetheir decisions. For instance, the O’Brien goes to the war, and heis afraid that his family might look at him as a coward that is notready to fight. Hence, the expectations of the people back at homeare also crucial in the actions that most of these soldiers undertakewhile they are in the war zone (O`brien, 78). The uncertainty oftheir future often forces to head into the war, and they hope thateverything will work out. The fear of shame is also what encouragesmost of the soldiers to participate in the battle. This source isinstrumental in defining patriotism and how it applies to the life ofthe soldiers. It proves that other factors tend to influence theirdecision to fight and patriotism is not one of them. For instance,the Jimmy Cross goes to Vietnam because his friends have done so. Inthe process, he even risks the life of his friends and the othersoldiers in the army. The fear of shame is also an instrumentalfactor that motivates the soldiers to head into the war.
The movie Saving Private Ryan portrays the challenges that thesoldiers undergo. It also captures the death of the soldiers and theemotional burden that the family members have to undergo. In thiscase, the civilians often interpret the deaths as acts of patriotism,yet, families have lost people. For instance, the loss of the fivebrothers is clearly devastating, and the other soldiers wonder howtheir mother will take the news. In fact, Spielberg also seems likehe is warning the future generations against pledging their loyaltyto the nation in the name of patriotism. Instead, he wants them tounderstand that such misleading assumptions will not result inanything instrumental in their lives. Captain John Miller is acourageous leader, and he guides the other members as they makedecisions (Spielberg). However, he weeps for the Medic Wade while heis alone. The scenario reveals that the soldiers try to hide theirfeelings and portray the masculine image. More important, Spielbergillustrates how patriotism and the life of the soldiers are notenjoyable as most people make it seem like. The director insists thatthe soldiers are exposed to some severe consequences that they cannotavoid because of the setting. It is clear that the war questions theideals of patriotism since most of the soldiers do not see anythingthat is interesting since they are vulnerable to the dangers.
The movie also captures the moral struggle that the soldiers undergoas they try to survive the emotional torment as well as the brutalitythat they experience. It is evident that the soldiers end up having adifficult time while they are trying to survive the war that hasturned out to be a place where people die, and they are lonely. Infact, Spielberg also warns the youths against the ideology ofpatriotism since the media and the nation paints it as a veryappealing concept, yet, it is not. In this case, Private Jacksonbelieves that religion will keep him going, but, it seems like theloyalty to their nation has less to do with their presence in thebattlefield (Spielberg). It is clear that he has lost hope and heonly relies on luck that will determine his chances of survival. Heis terrified by the situation and he wishes that some of thecircumstances can change instead. In particular, the government oftenpraises the soldiers and acknowledges them for their patriotism. Inreality, the praise and the recognition do not match the horror andviolence that they experience in the different war zones. TimothyUpham is another soldier that was just a civilian, and he did notunderstand the extent of violence that they were exposed to(Spielberg). The violence reveals that he is a coward and terrifiedof the situation that seems to get out of hand as they are trying tofind alternative solutions.
In conclusion, the three works of literature reveal the realitybehind the concept of the patriotism and the anguish that thesoldiers undergo. In this case, the description shows that thegovernment will motivate the soldiers and insist that they are beingloyal to the nation. However, in reality, the battlefield captures adifferent story that is quite distinct from the beliefs that thecivilians have. For instance, the works show that people need totreasure their lives and they should not be blinded by the governmentideologies that aim at extending influence over other nations.Furthermore, any young people volunteering for the army should beready for the emotional turmoil that the battlefield presents.
Brewer, Susan A. Why America fights: Patriotism and war propagandafrom the Philippines to Iraq. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Hermans, Theo. The Manipulation of Literature (RoutledgeRevivals): Studies in Literary Translation. Routledge, 2014.
O`brien, Tim. Thethings they carried. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.
Owen, Wilfred. Dulceet decorum est. ProQuest LLC, 2004.
Spielberg, Steven. “Saving Private Ryan.” YouTube.Uploaded by V. Allshouse, 12 Dec, 2016,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ci-6Uzw8tzQ