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Suicide in the Trenches

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Maryalice Rosa

on 12 March 2014

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Transcript of Suicide in the Trenches

Suicide in the Trenches
Analysis
I knew a
simple
soldier boy

Who
grinned at life in empty joy,

Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,

And
whistled early with the lark.



In
winter
trenches,
cowed and glum,

With
crumps and lice and lack of rum,

He
put a bullet through his brain.

No one spoke of him again.



You

smug-faced crowds
with
kindling eye

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

Sneak home and
pray you'll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go.
Author/Speaker/Overall Tone
Author:
Siegfied Sassoon, the author of "Suicide in the Trenches," is also the speaker of the story. He was born into a wealthy Jewish family in Kentucky in 1886. He was sent to the Western Front, the day before war was declared and lost some his closest friends and family during that time which inspired him to write poems of some of the awful memories he will never forget. Leaving the trenches after a minor injury, he faced serious depression, and mental issues while adjusting to civilian life. Only to die a few years later in 1967 after have written many famous poems that we read today.
Speaker:
The speaker of the poem, Sassoon watched somebody he knew be transformed from a happy, innocent young but to a depressed man who wanted to commit suicide after experiencing the horrors of war.
Tone:
Sassoon affects the reader by creating a dark, and gloomy atmosphere to describe life in the trenches in 1916. He creates sorrow in the reader as the young man becomes lonely and empty.
Comparison
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
Similarities
Suicide in the Trenches
I knew a simple soldier boy

Who grinned at life in empty joy,

Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,

And whistled early with the lark.



In winter trenches, cowed and glum,

With crumps and lice and lack of rum,

He put a bullet through his brain.

No one spoke of him again.



You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye

Who cheer when soldier lads march by,

Sneak home and pray you'll never know

The hell where youth and laughter go.
Siegfried Sassoon
"Simple" means that the soldier is
innocent and doesn't understand
the suffering of war.
"grinned at life in empty joy" exemplifies the
soldier's innocence and happiness as a young boy
before he goes to war. He worries about nothing
and is always joyful.
"Slept soundly through the lonesome dark" foreshadows the fears that the soldier will have in the night because of war. He will no longer be able to sleep soundly again.
"whistled with the early lark" shows the young boy's excitement to be up early ready to enjoy the day. Whistling symbolizes his carefree attitude and joy for life.
"cowed and glum" tells of the soldier's emotions now
that he is in war. He is no longer
a happy young
boy excited
about life,
but a glum
soldier
depressed
by
war.
Having the setting in winter symbolizes the coldness and harshness of war.
"crumps of lice and lack of rum" adds to the depression of the war by lack of supplies and food. The men are degraded by lice and do not even have rum.
The war has transformed a happy boy into a suicidal and depressed soldier. His suicide symbolizes the harsh reality of war and the transformation it requires a young innocent boy to make.
"No one spoke of him again" shows that because so many men died, individual deaths were not spoken of. Soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the trenches were forgotten.
"You" refers to the
reader as if we are all guilty of what the poet is about to talk about.
"smug-faced crowds" is used to show how the crowd thinks that they are patriotic for cheering on the soldiers when in reality, they can't relate to the soldiers because they have never experienced war. They cheer for those who come home but don't acknowledge the dead and forgotten.
"kindling eye" compares the eyes of the crowd to the starting of a fire when they see the soldiers go by. The soldiers ignite patriotism within the people who believe that they understand the young men and the war. They are actually far from understanding.
"The hell where youth and laughter go" brings out the author's feelings about war. His view of war as an evil hell contrasts with the public's view of war as a glorious place.
Sassoon wants the public to know that they are sending young boys off to hell. They will never forget war and perhaps never leave. If the boys return, their "youth and laughter" will be gone forever.
People should pray that they never have to endure the same experiences as the soldiers.
Just like the boys in All Quiet on the Western Front, the boys described in this poem are young, innocent, and simple.
In
All Quiet on the Western Front
, Paul and his friends used to find simple joy in their lives, like Detering on his farm or Paul in his butterfly collection.
Both the book and poem are about the same war and describe similar situations and feelings in the trenches during winter.
The men in
All Quiet
..., also faced drops in morale due to lice and lack of good food and rum.
Although no one in
All Quiet
..., was driven to suicide, many were driven to temporary, if not long term, insanity.

In the novel, one new recruit becomes so shell shocked that he wets his pants and reaches out to Paul when he "like a child creeps under my arm, his head close to my breast. The little shoulders heave" (Remarque 61).

While they were under attack, another boy attempted to run off. "It is a case of claustrophobia, he feels as though he is suffocating here and wants to get out at any price" (Remarque 110). The more experienced veterans had to tie him to a tree.

Berger died when he crazily left a safe trench to walk through a battlefield in an attempt to euthanize a suffering dog. He is described by "this lightning that lowers somewhere above us has struck him and made him demented" (279).
In
All Quiet...
, so many men died that it was too difficult to speak off. Like the young soldier in the poem, there were so many deaths that they began to seem insignificant and expected. When the soldiers are new to the war, they mourn deaths the way that most civilized people would, but as the war drags on and the death toll increases, they learn not to dwell on their losses because it would tear them apart. Life loses all significance in the trenches. Instead of thinking about losses, people prefer to focus on those who are alive, all the while knowing that they may not stay this way for long. In the book, Paul reports the death of his dear friend and schoolmate with the simple sentence, "Muller is dead" (Remarque 279), and never brings up the painful topic again.
In
All Quiet...
, the Paul is cheered when he comes home and asked by his family about the details of war but he knows that they would not be able to understand so he lies. He tells them it is not bad and they continue to believe that their son is on a glorious journey to protect the fatherland. This is an example of the crowds of people who believe they are patriotic but really have no idea what war is. He no longer feels like he belongs with in his own home with his family and says, "I find I do not belong here anymore, it is a foreign world" (Remarque 168).
In the book, a Lieutenant who has never been to the front, makes Paul march for failing to salute to him. He has no idea what young men like Paul have gone through. Like the crowd in the poem, this man should be thankful that he does not know the horrors of war and should respect the young men who do.
People in
All Quiet..
. also see war as the same glorious valiant opportunity as the crowd in the poem. The author of the book wants these people to see that war is "hell" in the darkest sense of the word. In both works, it is acknowledged that the "youth and laughter" present in the earlier lives of the men will never come back. In
All Quiet...
, Kropp says, "Two years of shells and bombs-a man won't pull that off as easy as a sock" (Remarque 87). No matter how hard they try, the men will never be able to forget what they experienced in war. It has scarred them for life.
Stanza 1
Tone
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
simplicity
youth
nostalgia
happiness
cheerful
naiive
Theme
Begins to construct the makings of a theme by introducing the innocence and happiness of the boy before WW1.
innocence
Stanza 2
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
Tone
sad
depressing
insignificant
unappreciated
longful
yearning
dark
gloomy
All Quiet on the Western Front
- "Suicide in the Trenches"
Theme
War is evil and unnecessary. Both works tell stories of young men who are sent off to war happy and carefree and become forever changed by the horrors they experience. The central theme in both is that we should realize how horrible war is and keep it from happening again.
Tone
The tone in both works is of pain, sorrow and loss. Both authors use tone to convey their anti-war attitudes. This tone contrasts to the many patriotic attitudes of the time and the poetry and novels which glorified war.
Stanza 3
Tone
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by.
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Bitter
Sarcastic
Sneering
Angry
Dark
Depressing
Theme
Theme
The last stanza sums up the message that war is a terrible thing. And the innocent soldiers going to fight will never be able to erase those awful memories from their mind after the adults they trusted, lied to them about the reality of war.
War has caused the innocent young boys to become inhumane soldiers without any feelings or emotions.
At the beginning of the poem, a young and innocent boy is portrayed with not a care in the world. Everything was easy and happy so he was enthusiastic to be alive.
Shortly after the young boys' youth is take from them. In the trenches the soldiers would rather be dead than have to live through another day of war. The men are becoming physically and emotionally tired after loosing their humanity and everything they once loved.
The young soldier regrets going to war. The public was cheering on the recruits to sign up without any understanding of it. War not only killed thousands of men but also took away their youth and laughter, and destroyed the lives of the men who survived. Public made war seem glorious when in reality it was dark and depressing and for any one's sake who may join, he hopes that this poem will make them run from the thought of joining.
Full transcript