Tuesday, December 1, 2009

War (Critical Analysis)

“War is like love, easy to begin, hard to end and impossible to forget”, a famous saying about war can express almost of the loss which wars cause for human being. From the very past of history to the present, even though many wars have proven to us the cruel, inhuman and violent they were, more and more wars still happen with more barbarous and fiendish. The higher in techniques we reach, the deeper we sink in wars. In the end, wars do not bring any efforts, benefits or rights and interest for people. To get matters worse, the truth is war only take countries lower, poorer and deeper in the circle of sin. “War” of author Luigi Pirandello is one of many works which is against wars, especially World War I. The story takes place on a train in Italy during World War I (1914 – 1918). Italy entered the war in 1915. Using indirect description by telling the whole story in the third-person perspective and defining clearly the emotions of characters, Luigi easily helped readers to understand the cruelty and fierceness of the war.

At the very beginning of the story, the background itself brings us the sad and gloomy atmosphere of the “night express” which “stopped at the small station of Fabriano and continue their journey by the small-fashioned local joining the main line with Sulmona”. Even when the dawn came, it only made the view more clearly for us to see how tragic the passengers became. By using such words like “mourning, moaning, weakly, death-white, shy, uneasy, hide her face”, the author completely directly defined how disastrous their situations even though we readers have not known yet. By accident, all of the passengers “in this stuffy and smoky second-class carriage” were the parents of soldiers who sent to the front in war. Their sons were died or wounded, which made the parents suffered the sadness, loneliness, bitterness and wretchedness inside each of them. Definitely because of suffering from that hurt, the man in the story muttered “Nasty world!” After all the description, we can assume that this partially reflect the feelings of each passengers, whose emotions were tried to be kept inside although they were so enormous to hide. The woman in the story felt so sorry, exhausted and tired to explain to another passenger her own situation. After her husband’s story, the passengers understood and tried to comfort her by telling her their disastrous story. Even each of them had different stories, the main reason led to these bad results was the war. Almost the passengers tried to express their terrible feelings of missing their own sons. Each of them considered their own feelings is the most suffering, most terrible, and the saddest of all. The atmosphere was darker and darker, more stress for everyone. They understood that the more sons died from war, the more they will suffer from it. “A father gives all his love to each one of his children without discrimination, whether it be one or ten, and if I am suffering now for my two sons, I am not suffering half for each of them but double…”

While the passengers were sinking in the their sad feelings and keep moaning about their sadness, there was the voice “Nonsense!” from “a fat, red-faced man with bloodshot eyes of palest gray”. He demonstrated the ideas of thinking about their sons’ deaths. “Our sons are born because… well, because they must be born and when they come to life they take our own life with them”. “Why then, shouldn’t we consider the feelings of our children when they are twenty? Isn’t it natural that at their age they should consider the love for their Country even greater than the love for us?” He suggested the others to accept the fact of the sons’ deaths even though they made them to tolerate. “Now, if one dies young and happy, without having the ugly sides of life, the boredom of it, the pettiness, the bitterness of disillusion… what more can we ask for him?” He indirectly demonstrated the idea that people should stop crying, should laugh and even not wear mourning.

The passengers seemed to agree with the fat man and became to calm down. “Then suddenly, just as if she had heard nothing if what had been said and almost as if waking up from a dream, she turned to the old man, asking him: “Then… is your son really dead?” The accidental question seemed to be harmless but completely changed the motions of the fat man. It seemed that he tried to cover the deepest wounds but the woman’s question torn them apart. He tried to pretend that he did not feel bad about his son’s death, even pretended that his son was still alive and would come home with him after war. “The old man, too, turned to look at her, fixing his great, bulging, horribly watery light gray eyes, deep in her face. For some little time he tried to answer, but words failed him. He looked and looked at her, almost as if only then – at that silly, incongruous question – he had suddenly realized at last that his son was really dead – gone for ever – for ever. His face contracted, became horribly distorted, then he snatched in haste a handkerchief from his pocket and, to the amazement of everyone, broke into harrowing, heart-rending, uncontrollable sobs”.

War seems to be the most terrible thing to each of families all over the world. Besides, war is the most thing which can destroy not only countries but also people. In conclusion, “War” can indirectly describe the most painful, disastrous, and suffering situation of every parents who lost their sons.


War is a short story written by Italian dramatist/author Luigi Pirandello in the early 20th century. The story depicts a time when a country is at war, and we see the parents of children who are going off to war crammed into a small train car.

What starts off as a pleasant enough discussion quickly turns into a spitting contest, where each man tries to best the others by discussing his own suffering. One man has had his child at the front since the outbreak of the war, while another's son has been injured on 3 separate occasions, and sent back just as many times. We see yet another man who starts to talk in math, that is to use figures and calculations to show the he suffers more because of his multiple children fighting.

Here we come to the first statement we can draw from War about the human condition. We realize that, in a way similar to Thomas Hobbes, humans are naturally selfish, and it is our instinct to try and best each other, even in times of great communal strife.

However, we then see a fat traveller enter the carriage, and he only stirs up the debate more. He makes fanciful proclamations about how children are not the property of parents, nor should they be treated as such.

This prompts a traveller to hasten to agree with the boisterous man, and we see that he is a slight bit intimidated. He, however, goes off on a tangent about how children belong to the Nation, and it is only the desires of the Nation that drive the actions of children.

This is met with a harsh comment of Bosh or Nonsense from the fat man. Here we see a theme of denial start to emerge in Pirandello's work. We realize that the man has been already convinced of his view of the world, and has now come to deny anything that could possibly be contrary to that value system.

Thus our second statement about the human condition we can make is that humans believe what they want to believe, and will often resort to silencing others to strengthen their own beliefs.

We learn (only in passing) that the traveler's son has actually died in the war, but one would not know that from the tone we interpret. He is so defiantly proud of his son's death that he has not come to realize the impact of his loss. This is why, when a silent traveler poses the fateful question Is your son really dead? we see that he has had no idea up until then, and he breaks out in sobs.

Thus we come to our final conclusion about the human condition. We can say that with relative certainty that humans will choose to deny information that might have a negative effect on their status and/or reputation.

Pirandello's story is one rife with the classic theme of denial, where someone refuse to believe an obvious truth. The author is making a commentary on how this negatively affects society via the flow of false information, and contemporary society would do well to learn from the faults of the fat traveller.

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