Free «The Sorrow of War by Ninh, Bao» Essay Sample

The novel, The Sorrow of War byNinh, Bao depicts war as a world of casualty, severity, hopelessness, and sufferings. The author explores the concepts of pointlessness and irrationality of wartime. To convey a message of the novel Ninh Bao appeals to emotions of readers and their imagination using specific techniques and different stylistics devices. Ninh Bao is a keen observer of people, historical and war events which is manifested in his style of writing. Ninh Bao depicts that a battlefield is the most terrible place he has ever seen. In this poem he portrays the futility of soldiers deaths and sufferings of men who are still alive, but know that death is “around the corner”. Thesis Kien’s experience of war changed from rejection and envy towards enemies towards understanding of sorrows of war and great people’s sufferings.

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The message of this novel is that war is senseless, war brings only grief and constant tension to be killed. This horrible picture of war reality is heated by the departure of soldiers who have not been faced with reality of war. It is possible to predict that these young boys have heard a lot of battles and operations, but none of them can imagine the casualties of war-time. In both poems, Ninh Bao uses stylistic techniques to impress the reader and convey the message. His structural and stylistic devices reveal a variety of interpretations as to the meaning in the poems. The title comments on the main idea of the novel, which means death of innocent people (soldiers) who can do nothing to protect themselves. The use of past tense underlines the fact that a soldier on the battlefield is dead and nothing can bring him back. The title is an example of sarcasm which questioned the necessity of new deaths.  Rural landscapes underlines that the common sense of a battle field cannot be explained through a personal interest of people taking part in a battle because a soldier means nothing as a subject but more as a tool of a battle field.

From the very beginning, Kien perceives war as a natural event aimed to protect one nation against the other and gain political authority. The characteristic emotions of the suffering wicked in the cycles, wrath and despair, are carried over into the author's usage, but in an entirely new context. The element of fury is undercut, not by the familiar elements of the political myth which provide for the ultimate defeat of evil, but by the ironic helplessness of even the mightiest of conquerors in the face of disease and death. Kien’s despair is indeed the despair of the spiritually damned, but it is a condition of his being which springs from the dramatic pattern of his repeated actions and choices throughout the novel; it is not the despair of the older generation. It also functions as an operative force in the persistent tension generated by the uncertain state of the Kien’s soul. The sense of justice that pervades the handling of suffering in the morality novels and the novels which borrow from that tradition is also felt in the novel. “Only now, in his middle age, could Kien truly understand those years.”(Ninh 124). Suffering and destruction brought on by the character's own action or perversity is at work in one degree or another in the fates of soldiers affording one major means of making their suffering and hardship intelligible.

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The war experience provides the main character with dramatic precedent for the secularization of the soldier’s figure, physical rather than spiritual destruction becomes the prime object of pride. The sorrow of their characters is given more than precise poetic articulation; it is dramatically activated. Though there are still traces of the self-contained, set lament in, one can see new life breaking out in dramatic gesture, such as the mourning splintering his lance on the ground in the effort to free the furies. “Kien and his scout squad established an altar and prayed before it in secret, honoring and recalling the wandering souls from the 27th Battalion still in the Jungle of Screaming Souls” (Ninh 7).  Despite all that is diverse and derivative in dramatic depiction of war suffering and evil, there emerge from real life experience and certain central preoccupations and techniques which are the true measure of his originality. At the heart of the novel and personal transformation of Kien is destruction, and persistent emphasis on human responsibility for suffering and evil.

The use of personal change means that a person has only one life, which cannot be “restored”; it means that soldiers can never rise from the dead. The contrast between picturesque landscapes and deaths helps Ninh Bao to emphasize the futility of war-time. The pessimism unveils the outcome of soldiers’ departure when Ninh Bao questions the necessity of civic duty which is usually accepted and accomplished not on the basis of choice, but on the bases of force connected with the bureaucratic system. It means that army should neutralize the enemy in order to protect the safety of the country sacrificing lives of its citizens. Kien greatest affliction is the sickness which proves him to be a man; his whole career has been a series of stupendous efforts to prove himself lord above all men--his audacious ambition is the theme of the novel. The ambition of Kien is less infectious; the propagandistic nature of the drama keeps the love disease from spreading to the "good side." Nevertheless, his pitiless climb to power constitutes the center of the novel, and his fatal stumbling causes him the most agony. There is rhetoric of action in the war drama which must be heeded as well; in a wider context which includes awareness of that rhetoric, the theme of ambition takes on a different note. War sufferings is used as very important stylistic device to convey authentic atmosphere of war. Triumphs and failures symbolize old wisdom and eternal existence in contrast to fragility of a human life and mortality. Nature, and landscapes in particular, is used as a symbol to describe deep personal feelings and life experience of a human. The author gives only some hints to the reader to comprehend the meaning of the novel.

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Ninh Bao forces readers to think over the impact of war on humans, its catastrophic effect and loosing hopes of the whole generation. Ninh Bao questions that a combat operation is not a thing in itself, even though its power to influence behavior is largely the result of it being seen as a natural property of a group. To attract the readers attention Ninh Bao uses a dash to emphasize the importance of his words. It is possible to conclude that all those techniques mentioned above can be regarded as author’s style which helps him to create powerful images of war, its piteous and futile nature and help Ninh Bao to appeal to readers emotions. Another stylistic device presents two contrasting ideas of war. Soldiers are gay because it is the only feeling which helps them to survive. The soldiers are not sure whether they will wake up the next day or not, and the only possible things for them not to go crazy is to be in high spirits. The remarkable feature of Ninh Bao is symbolism, which forces the readers to be co-authors of the novel and events described.

The personal change in Kien is a result of personal self-identification and maturity. This is suffering with dramatic point, suffering that pricks the bubble of ambition's enchantment, suffering which does more to underscore the destructive fruits of ambition than the most sententious of moralizing choruses. It is the tool of a dramatist with an eye for irony rather than a concern for moralizing; but it is no less moral for all that. To reveal the ironies of human aspiration is not to discount the naked forcefulness of will inherent in protagonists. Ninh Bao heroes are defined by the strength of both their sufferings and their desires. But within the total context of each play, the revelation is clear that it is just this force of will that explains and makes intelligible the panorama of calamity, destruction, and evil exhibited upon the stage. The root of tragedy is in the will of man. Here lies the dramatically intelligible cause of evil in war drama. Ninh Bao’s essential view of the causes of evil in human experience is no different from the orthodox one; his distinction lies in the dramatic skill in converting his theoretical knowledge into effective theater. The main character does not talk about free will and human responsibility as the determining forces in life; instead they demonstrate the idea by acting. The grand dream is reduced to limited and spiritually destructive accomplishment. But within the total context of each play, the revelation is clear that it is just this force of will that explains and makes intelligible the panorama of calamity, destruction, and evil exhibited upon the stage. The root of tragedy is in the will of man. Here lies the dramatically intelligible cause of evil in war drama.

In sum, through personal transformations and change in self-identity, Kien understand that the war is not sweet for those people who suffer from it. “They” mean people who stay behind. Ninh Bao describes, explains and justifies population in terms of a deep and ineradicable difference between “us” and “them”. Ninh Bao uses rhetorical question with the implication of uncertainty, hesitation and deliberation. Ninh Bao stresses above all the human habit of cloaking these manifestations of disorder and perversity in eloquently expressed "ideals" and high-sounding language. It is the tragic view of the ironist who sees in man the responsible cause of his own undoing, who presents man as a destructive agent who, by the abuse of freedom and will, persistently betrays others and inevitably betrays himself. For Ninh Bao, the tragedy lies, not in the inevitable falling off of human achievement from the ideal, but in the travesty of the ideal that the deeds of men so often represent, and in the illusory aura of nobility with which man persistently invests his base desires.For Kien, illusion is a mark of suffering, and once more it is used to stress his helplessness in the face of death, his unwillingness to accept the conditions of mortality even when they press closely upon him. His response to enemies is indeed extraordinarily audacious, but the very fantasy of his daring and of his extravagant action is its own comment on the little even the strongest of men can accomplish against inevitable human limitations.

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