War Is Kind is one of Stephen Cranes poems published in 1899 to show the events that happen in war and the impact of the war in separating people from their loved ones and harming the participants in the battle. The poem is filled with irony, as there are no kind events about war described by Crane. As such, he uses imagery and irony to bring about the sad picture of war. From the events of the poem, it is tough to establish the kindness of war as the 26-line poem is majorly focused on the emotional distress of three women who lost their family members in an encounter. The description of the fallen men in battle in the first, second, third as well as the last stanza of the poem is enough evidence to show that war in inherently cruel and harmful. Crane does not mean the exact words that he uses in War Is Kind but rather uses an irony to show the effects of war on the human body, the family, and the society. War Is Kind is an ironical poem that indicates that the consequences of war are to separate families and bring about emotional distress to the victims family as well as harm to the bodies of the participants.
War Is Kind is ironical because the effects of war are to bring out an unexplained glory. According to Crane, the participants of war cannot explain their purpose as The unexplained glory flies above them (9). In this regard, the soldiers in the battlefield are unable to tell whether they have won or lost irrespective of the progress that they have made on the war. Notably, although one group of people may be able to subdue the other in war, they will still lose some of their soldiers. Additionally, there cannot be any glory when other soldiers have lost their lives, and their families have been left in emotional distress. Ashrafi (200) states that Crane tells the maiden in the first stanza not to cry because he is aware of the emotional stress that she is going through. War is so cruel such that it would not make people confused as to whether they have won or lost. Technically, they win when they defeat their enemies. However, this could be a loss gauging from the number of lives lost in a war. As such, War Is Kind is irony as the results of war is to bring about an unexplained glory.
Crane uses irony to show that war is cruel and unforgiving as it leads to the emotional distress of the victims families. Specifically, Crane states that Great is the battlegod, great, and his kingdom-- A field where a thousand corpses lie (10-11). From this statement, it is clear that war is cruel as the only beneficiary of the war is battle gods who in this case are the commanders. Additionally, the many corpses that arise from war make it such an unforgiving activity to engage in. The irony of the statement is evident as nothing can be kind when the only beneficial result arising from it are corpses. According to Ashrafi (199), the only beneficiary of war is somebody who would benefit from the death of people. The families of the victims do not whereas the society loses its courageous men and women. The cruelty of war is demonstrated by the loss of lives that cannot be justified. Moreover, enemies of progress are the only people who appreciate and hail war. Additionally, those interested in seeing families suffer from distress arising from the loss of loved ones may as well love the kindness of war. Cranes description is, therefore, an ironical statement that shows how war is cruel to people and only beneficial to battle gods.
War brings about harm to the bodies of the victims as they would suffer immense pain from the war and eventually die. As such, Crane ironically states that war is kind Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches, Raged at his breast, gulped and died (13-14). The tumbling that Crane describes is a painful experience that soldiers experience in war. Additionally, the yellow trenches refer to the environment of war where there is a lot of dirt. Soldiers would fight in very harsh circumstances that are filled with difficulties. Additionally, the use of yellow could be a depiction of the diseases that are experienced in the battlefield. Corley (352) opines that ranging at his chest shows that the father of the maiden was wounded and was thereby pounding his chest during his death throes. These experiences are very cruel to the father participating in war and, therefore, show how the events of war harm the participants. Additionally, the final moments when the soldier is dying demonstrate the amount of pain that he/she experiences. As a result, war brings about suffering to the victims and immense pain and eventually death.
The final reward of war is death. Crane confirms this by stating, Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment, little souls who thirst for fight, these men were born to drill and die (6-8). In this statement, Crane is categorical that in battlefield soldiers are meant to be ordered around by their sergeants on how they are supposed to attack their enemies. Specifically, they are condemned to do some repetitive exercise such as aiming at targets and making shorts as well as crawling like snakes. Eventually, the fates of these soldiers are already determined, as they will eventually end up in corpses (Chandra). Additionally, the uselessness of the war is shown as it turns soldiers into murders and their lives are meaningless as they end up dying in war without benefiting their families and their communities. There are only two probabilities in war. The soldiers will both emerge victoriously and regret the deaths that they caused, or die in the battle. Engaging in combat is, therefore, asking to sign a death wish. It is hard to present any positive effects of war considering the various adversities. Participating in battles is an activity that makes people useless ad their lives worthless. As a result, the ultimate results of war is suffering and death.
Unfortunately, opponents of the irony used through the poem by Crane would state that he means every word of the entire poem. Specifically, they would argue that war is kind as it ends the conflict by eliminating a large group of soldiers. According to Corley (351), war is kind because it acts as a means of subduing the weak party and giving dominance to the winning one. However, the opponents of the irony in the poem do not understand that there is no winning in war as all parties lose. The bloodshed in war, as well as the number of families that are separated from their families, implies that war can never be kind. Additionally, the tone used by the author shows that the relatives of the people who lose their members in war are left in distress and agony (Ritchey). Additionally, the circumstances under which the soldiers in war fight are atrocious. Examining all this evidence shows that Crane was ironic in his words and only meant to show that war is cruel and ruthless as it takes away the lives of productive people. As such, those who do not see an irony in the poem fail to establish the tone used by the speaker as well as how the events of war are described.
In conclusion, War Is Kind is Stephen Cranes poem that ironically describes how war is cruel and ruthless to the soldiers and their families. The cruelty of war is based on the effects that battles have. Specifically, war brings about an unexplained glory, as killing others does not amount to winning the war. Additionally, war is responsible for the suffering of the soldiers and their eventual death. Notably, withstanding the effects of a bullet wound is painful and dying from the wound is even more painful. Moreover, the ultimate result of war is death. Specifically, those who participate in war are already prepared to lose their lives. Although opponents of the irony in Cranes poem would state that war is kind as it sometimes brings peace, they fail to appreciate the agony and emotional distress that war causes to families.
Ashrafi, Syed Afroz. "Human Connections in Red Badge of Courage." International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature 5.3 (2016): 199-202.
Chandra, Luqman Nur. "The Misery Of War As Seen In Stephen Crane's War Is Kinf And Walt Whitman's Dirge For Two Veterans." Lexicon 2.1 (2013).
Corley, Liam. "" Brave Words": Rehabilitating the Veteran-Writer." College English 74.4 (2012): 351-365.
Crane, Stephen. War is kind and other poems. Courier Corporation, 2016.
Ritchey, Payton Lauren. War is Kind: Idealization in Militarism. Diss. Texas A&M University, 2014.
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