There is No War Without Broken Hearts
There are countless poets and writers who have expressed their views on war and how their lives and the lives of people around them are affected by it. There is no way to be involved, directly or indirectly with a war, and not have your emotions and views be affected by its trauma and controversial issues. This change not only involves the soldiers, but their family, friends and lovers. It is true to say that everyone is influenced by war but the change that takes place can vary a great deal from person to person depending on what the individual’s involvement is and what the war means to that person. A person’s way of dealing with this transformation or emotion may vary even more. Political issues as well as personal experiences power this difference. Displays of this varying of emotional influence and even trauma can be seen in Dorothy Parker’s “Penelope," E.E. Cummings’ “my sweet old etcetera,” Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Facing It," and Ernest Hemingway’s “Soldier’s Home.”
Apparently spouses of soldiers are greatly affected by their lovers leaving them and knowing there is a chance they may not come back. Dorothy Parker explores one woman’s feelings as her husband leaves her in “Penelope” that may seem slightly out of range of what a “typical” wife might feel as her husband goes off to war. Most women would be upset their spouse is leaving because the they are afraid for his safety, causing them to sound very downhearted when they speak of his leaving. The tone of the poem instead of distressed and melancholy is sarcastic and cynical. The poet uses images of bravery and nobility describing the speaker’s husband as he rides off into the sunset. The images used, such as “In the pathway of the sun,” make him seem godlike and brave. The speaker proceeds to describe herself as humble and performing the typical wife procedure, knitting and rocking in a chair. At the end, after the description of her sitting home and rocking she says “They will call him brave.” He will be called brave because he is going to fight for their country but she never got the chance to be called brave and do the same, she has to stay home and be a wife. This is why she is bitter toward her husbands leaving. In this way the war gives her feelings of jealousy and resentment. She was never given the option to go out and fight for her country and resents the sexist acts of the government. For these reasons she is hostile toward the war.
E. E. Cummings takes a different perspective in his poem “my sweet old etcetera.” The speaker has a totally different viewpoint and set of emotions brought into this poem due to several differences in the speakers lives. For example, in “Penelope” the speaker was a woman left behind by her husband. In Cummings poem, the speaker is a man at war. In “my sweet old etcetera," the speaker is a soldier speaking about his family and their opinion of war versus his own feelings. The speaker’s family is very proud that the speaker is at war and fighting for their country. His dad talks about the war for hours and used to “become hoarse” (121) going on about it, his sister knits things for him to go such as socks, and his mom speaks of how she wants him to die bravely. They all feel that war is a great thing to go to and only see the glorified “dying bravely for your country” aspect of it. The speaker feels apathy toward the emotions of his family, and this can be seen in his repetitive use of the word etcetera. Etcetera is commonly used as a substitute for words people do not think are necessary and do not want to use their time saying which takes the meaning out of the words he would be using. This infers that he really does not want to go into detail about the war and how proud his family is, he does not really care. This is because he feels that if his family only knew what he was going through they most likely would not