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The False Romanticism of War

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The romanticism of war is separate and opposite of romanticism for life. They cannot exist at the same time. War stands for death and destruction and life is the opposite. There is a constant clash between the love of decency: courage and devotion to your fellow men, and the love of life free of the horrors of war. War, and all things that propel war, is inherently evil. Beliefs in heroism, honor, and dignity are all idealistic. To the soldier on the field of battler their sole purpose is self-preservation. The only way that soldiers can persevere through the God awful shitty mess of war is through the brotherhood between the soldiers. This bond does not negate the hypocrisy of war; instead, it allows the men to survive it. The brotherhood is love for the sake of self-preservation. At its core, war dehumanizes people and one cannot have love for life if they are less than human. War is a machine that extracts young men and women from reality. It twists their morals until they do not know what is right or wrong. This level of dehumanization and objectification is clearly argued in Ron Kovic’s Born on the Fourth of July: “He had never been anything but a thing to them, a thing to put a uniform on and train to kill, a young thing to run through the meat-grinder, a cheap small nothing thing to make mincemeat out of” (165). War is the “meat-grinder.” Soldiers only matter because they can kill. War tears apart the people fighting it. Coming out of the war Kovic does not know what to do. He is lost. This aimless feeling is similar to the experiences of Jake and the Gang in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The protagonist, Jake Barnes, and his entourage wander the streets of Paris and Madrid with no purpose. After war, the real w... ... middle of paper ... ...not applicable in reality. This a problem that Jake, in The Sun Also Rises, faces. He does not like his friend group, he is jealous of Cohn and he despises Mike. He stays with them, not out of friendship, but because they share the experience of war. Because of this, the bonds forged have no real value outside of war. In some ways, this brotherhood is detrimental to the soldiers. It follows them for the rest of their life. They can never forget their pain of war. More importantly, they cannot fully accept reality after war because they are surrounded by people stuck in the same absurd world of war. It is hard to extract oneself from this absurd reality if it constantly follows them. The so-called “love” between soldiers allows them to preserve on the battlefield, but it is yet another hypocrisy of war because it maintains the absurd reality that they are trapped in.
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