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Luigi Pirandello War

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Autor:  jessica85  11 March 2010
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Luigi Pirandello War
“War,” written by Luigi Pirandello, is a short story focusing on the tragic repercussions that World War I had on thousands of families. This short story is set on a train and involves four different families who discover the cruel reality of losing a loved one by listening to a traveling companion’s own grief about the war and the effect it has on him. It is suggested that Pirandello uses his literary works to reflect the bitterness of self-deception therefore making it arguable that the characters in “War” find reality in death through their companion’s testimony. Because of past denial, each character discovers that they are unstable beings when forced to recognize death. Analyzing the thoughts and opinions of the passengers can support this idea. Each traveler is enlightened after an accompanying passenger shares his personal testimony, shattering all previous views regarding the loss of a son for the benefit of the country.

Pirandello opens the story by introducing a husband and wife, both in deep mourning for their son that is to be sent to the front line. After the couple boarded the train, the husband felt that it was his duty to explain to his traveling companions that the poor old woman was to be pitied because the war was taking away her only son. This upset the couple because their son was assured that he would not be sent to the front line for at least six months and now all of a sudden he was commanded to report to the line in three days. The couple argues with the other passengers that their situation is as dire as it can get because this is their only son and there is no one left to console them if their son were to die. Until the woman met the man who gave his testimony, she mourned as though her life were ending along with her son’s departure. Although he was sent to the front line, “her grief had been greater in seeing that nobody -as she thought -could share her feelings.” After hearing the man’s statement concerning the loss of his son, she came to the realization “that it wasn’t the others who were wrong and could not understand her but herself who could not rise up to the same height of those fathers and mothers willing to resign themselves, without crying, not only to the departure of their sons but even to their death.”

Other characters, which include two other passengers, are also forced to accept the reality of sending a son to the front line. Along with the husband and wife, these two companions also come to terms with the reality of death because of the man’s testimony. One traveler tries to comfort the couple by telling them things could be worse. His son has been in battle since the first day of the war, has been wounded twice, and is already on the front again. The other passenger informs the couple that he has two sons and three nephews on the front. His belief is that even though it is not his only son, he is now suffering double. After hearing the man’s grief about war, all passengers were now in agreement that this is an honorable way for a young man to die as well as the preferred way. They all realized that they shouldn’t mourn for their sons in battle, but praise their bravery.

The man who triggered the passengers to alter the way they viewed losing a son to the country is described as a fat, red-faced man with bloodshot eyes. He argued with the others that he could belong to his son, but his son could never belong to him. When his son reached a certain age, there were other things like “girls, cigarettes, illusions, new ties . . . and the Country, of course.” The man defended each soldier in battle by reasoning with the passengers that it is natural for their sons to consider the love for their country even greater than the love for their parents. He also shows understanding to the travelers by admitting that his love for the country is great, but as any other mother and father the love for his son is greater. He would have gladly taken his son’s place on the front line. His departing words brought comfort to all of the travelers: “Everyone should stop crying, everyone should laugh as I do . . . or at least thank God -as I do -because my son, before dying sent me a message saying that he was dying satisfied at having ended his life in the best way he could have wished.” This line made the others come to the realization that death in this manner should not be mourned, but honored.

It is apparent that that the man’s testimony crushed previous views of death held by the passengers thus bringing each character to recognize its reality. Although the man brought each character to understand the prestige of death by war, the irony of the story is that the wife brought the man to also acknowledge the reality of his son’s death. The whole train ride the man had tried to persuade each person not to mourn because their sons would fall as heroes, “for his king and his Country, happy and without regrets.” But when the woman asked him if his son was really dead, “he had suddenly realized at last that his son was really dead -gone forever -for ever. His face contracted, became horribly distorted . . . he broke into harrowing, heart-rendering sobs.” The mother mistook the man’s honor and prestige for the admirable acceptance of his son’s death. He realized that aside from being a patron of his country, he was also a father to a dead soldier. After the man understood the woman’s question, he finally realized that he had not fully accepted his son’s death. After the dissection and analysis of “War” it is clear that each character is an instable being and in denial before forced to recognize death.

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