Does It Matter Siegfried Sassoon Essay

Analyse how language used intensified the message of the written text(s). In both poem ‘Does it Matter?’ and ‘Survivors’ the poet, Siegfried Sassoon is able to intensify the message of the non-combatants misunderstanding of the realities of war. This was by Sassoon using different language techniques such as rhetorical question, repetition and onomatopoeia. Rhetorical question is used to intensify the message of the non-combatants misunderstanding of the realities of war in the poem ‘Does it matter?’ by Siegfried Sassoon. Asking ‘does it matter’ reflects that the non-combatants are unable to see the true affects the war has caused the soldiers. This intensifies the message of the non-combatants misunderstanding of the realities of war because it does matter that the soldier lost their legs, their sight and every night having dreams from the pit. The non-combatants however were unable to understand what the war victims endure for their country. Onomatopoeia is also used in the poem ‘Does it Matter’ to intensify the message of the non-combatants misunderstanding of the realities of war Sassoon used the word ‘gobble’ to show that the non-combatants act like children, ignorant and unaffected by the realities of war.

This idea is also shown in ‘Base Details’ also by Siegfried Sassoon where the poet uses the words ‘toddle’ and ‘guzzling and gulping’ to describe how a major acts child-like and non-serious. This intensifies the message of the misunderstanding of the realities of war because it shows that the non-combatants act greedy and selfish towards the soldiers who fought in the war. In the poem ‘Survivors’ repetition is used to intensify the message of the non-combatants misunderstanding of the realities of war When Sassoon says ‘they’ll soon get well,’ ‘they’re longing to go out again,’ they’ll soon forget’ and ‘they’ll be proud’ it shows an impersonal distant regard the non-combatants have for the soldiers and their horrible suffering in the war. This intensifies the message of the misunderstanding of the realities of war because it shows that the non-combatants give a misleading hope to the shell shock soldiers that they will soon recover, when really there is no quick recovery from the damage the war has inflicted on the soldiers. Onomatopoeia also gets used in ‘Survivors’ to intensify the message of the non-combatant misunderstanding of the realities of war ‘Stammering disconnected talk’ highlight the difficulty the soldiers have with talking. This intensify the message of the non-combatant misunderstanding of the realities of war because it shows that the soldiers view of war is disconnected from the non-combatants view of war, as the soldiers have been through what the war is really like. In conclusion ‘Does it Matter?’ and ‘Survivors’ by Siegfried Sassoon, both intensify the message of the non-combatants misunderstanding of the realities of war through the language techniques of rhetorical question, repetition and onomatopoeia. Overall, I feel sorry for the soldier because they came back from the war and how to endure the non-combatants lack of understanding towards the traumatic events the soldiers went through.

Siegfried. Now there's a name you don't hear everyday. And certainly not in England. Nevertheless, little Siegfried Sassoon grew up in the southeastern English county of Kent with an English mother with a penchant for German opera (hence her son's name). After an uneventful childhood, Sassoon attended Cambridge for a while, but left without taking a degree (just like the famous Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge). After milling around and playing a lot of cricket (seriously), Sassoon decided to join the army shortly before the outbreak of World War I in August, 1914. Bad, bad timing.

After his younger brother died during the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I, and after he had spent considerable time on the Western Front, Sassoon grew disenchanted with the war and soon abandoned the patriotism that had brought him to sign up in the first place. The idealistic and naïve character of his early poems gave way to a prickly cynicism, as he became all too familiar with the cruelties of modern warfare.

At one point, Sassoon got so fed up that he wrote a public letter of protest to the British government that was read aloud in the House of Commons; in addition to criticizing the war effort itself, Sassoon also expressed anger at the public's careless, go-with-the-flow attitude when it came to a war they really knew nothing about. If that sounds like a risky move, well, it was. Sassoon narrowly escaped a court-martial for speaking his mind.

What's all that got to do with the poem at hand? Well, sometime in 1917, when he was feeling particularly sassy, Sassoon penned one of his best-known pieces, "Does it Matter?", a scathing poem that both describes common war injuries (blindness, the loss of limbs, madness) and also mocks those who act like one can still have a normal life after suffering from them.

Like many of his other poems, "Does it Matter?" contains a clear and powerful anti-war message; instead of talking about the ways in which soldiers are heroes, Sassoon describes broken men whose lives have been basically ruined by war.

In 1918 Sassoon published the poem in a collection appropriately titled Counter-Attack and Other Poems; the first poem in the volume illustrates the major theme of the volume as a whole, and of "Does it Matter?" in particular: "The unreturning army that was youth; / The legions who have suffered and are dust" (from "Prelude: the Troops"). Soldiers either lost their "youth" (their innocence, their childhood aspirations; that's what he means by "unreturning") or their lives ("dust"). The soldier in "Does it Matter?" has lost a lot, and his youth—a time when he had legs and sight and dreams—is definitely gone forever.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you lost your legs, or if you suddenly went blind? If you were planning on being a pilot, or a professional baseball player, well, you can toss that dream out the window. A lot of people would probably feel pretty bad for you and would thus be extra nice, but that really wouldn't change anything. If you're friends decided to go play golf, you would probably have to stay home, or stick to the cart.

Awful, right? Now imagine that you lost your legs fighting in a war, not a war in which you were attempting to root out evil, but a war that only happened because everybody got involved who had no compelling reason to get involved. Or at least, that's how you see it.

That war was World War I, and the tragic situation we've just described befell millions (that's right, millions) of young men between 1914 and 1918. While "Does it Matter?" doesn't talk about being a pilot (airplanes were still pretty new when Sassoon was writing) or a professional ball player, it talks about things like hunting and breakfast (and about how a blind person with no legs can't really do the things they used to do).

The soldier in the poem must sit home while others go out hunting; he waits while they eat (we're pretty sure a guy with no legs could still eat, but the point is that he is isolated from his fellow men and from normal life activities). He sits on a terrace and looks toward the light, but he can't really appreciate it the way he did before he lost his sight. The pain—both literal and psychological—of having one's legs, sight, and dreams destroyed makes life really crappy; the soldier in the poem can't really do anything except sit there and drink (and despair, probably).

While it is possible to lead an extremely fulfilling life, even without eyesight and legs, there's no place in the poem for such an optimistic outlook. For one thing, Siegfried Sassoon wasn't really a bright-side-of-the-road kind of guy. But more importantly, he was interested in the ways in which war radically changes people's lives, and not for the better. Losing one's legs as a result of some rare illness is one thing, but fighting in a seemingly pointless conflict is a whole different ballgame. It is almost as if the poem is trying to say, "this didn't have to happen, which makes it all the more tragic." Touché, Sassoon. Touché.

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