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Posted on April 29th, 2014, by

It is known that the theme of war is widely discussed in literature. Many poets and writers choose this theme because they want all people to learn more about war and its negative consequences. The view of war is represented in Wallace Stevens’ poem The Death of a Soldier and in William Faulkner’s story Two Soldiers. Both literary works discuss the role of a soldier at war, but the authors represent opposite points of view concerning the human sacrifice in the name of one’s own country and freedom.

The poem The Death of a Soldier is included in the book of poetry Harmonium. Wallace Stevens is a modernist poet who uses imagination in his poetry. Although the poem consists only of four free verse stanzas, there is a great depth of meaning in these lines. The poet discusses the death of a soldier not in terms of glory and honor, but in terms of an anonymous and uncelebrated event that is as inevitable as the fall of leaves in autumn:

Death is absolute and without memorial,

As in a season of autumn,

When the wind stops. (Stevens, 7-9)

The poet uses the rule of diminishment in all four stanzas in order to create the feelings of aching void and compassion. The anonymous death of a soldier at war is compared with the quick and windless moment. Wallace Stevens focuses the readers’ attention on the insubstantiality of death that war brings to men:

When the wind stops and, over the heavens,

The clouds go, nevertheless,

In their direction. (Stevens, 10-12)

William Faulkner’s story Two Soldiers discusses the soldier’s view of war. The story tells about two brothers who hear the news about the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor at the same time, but they have absolutely different views. The older brother Pete makes a decision to enlist in the military in order to join the war actions. The two brothers have always been inseparable in their life, and the youngest brother wants to be closer to his older brother. That is why he leaves his home and tries to find Pete. The major theme of the story is clearly reflected in the story’s title Two Soldiers. Both brothers can be regarded as soldiers. Pete is a soldier because he is ready to defend his country, and his younger brother, who is only 9, is also a soldier because he possesses the basic characteristics of a good soldier. First of all, he leaves his home in order to do his duty. He keeps repeating “I got to get to Memphis”ť (Faulkner 289).  Secondly, the younger brother demonstrates not only his courage and determination, but also his great desire to fight against difficulties in order to perform his mission. William Faulkner uses irony because the younger brother is not a soldier; he is too young to be a soldier. In this story, William Faulkner views the war as a painful event when dear people have to be separated by the war.

To sum up, different poets and writers describe war in different ways. Wallace Stevens’s view of way is concluded in the insubstantiality of death that war brings to people, while William Faulkner’s view of war is concluded in the pain of separation.

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