ISC Reverie John Brown workbook Answers


John Brown

Question: The soldiers who fight in the battlefield are pawns in the hands of those who glorify war for their interests. Discuss this statement with reference to the poem “John Brown”.

Answer: Since ancient times, war was glorified and horrors of war were ignored to make it seem a worthwhile honourable and romantic endeavour. Those who laid down their lives on the battlefield were glorified as martyrs and war heroes.
       But this notion was shattered at the beginning of the twentieth century by the brutal reality of the First World War. The appalling conditions under which soldiers were to made to live and fight were quite inhuman.

       Many noted poets realised that all the literature and art based on wars were an elaborate myth and young men should not be instructed to go to the battlefield. They felt that there is nothing noble in dying for one’s country on the battlefield.

       ‘John Brown’ strongly disapproves wars and it’s glorification but it shows realistic details of the kind of horror and senseless deaths that a war causes.
        The poem ‘ John Brown’ is all about a handsome young soldier, who is leaving for the war. His mother has fantasised the war as a glorious and prestigious job and she  considers fighting in war is the best thing ,a young man do .
      She encourages him to follow his captain’s orders so that he brings home  lots of medals. The mother brags about her son and there is no sense of grief or sadness that she might lose her son in the war.
      But the only person who can understand the cruelty and horrors of the war is John Brown himself. He wondered what he was doing there in battlefield. When John Brown looked at the face of his enemy in the battlefield, he was shocked to see that he was not different from him. Both of them were made to fight in a war and reality is that they both don’t even know the causes behind this war.
      That is why he sarcastically says to his mother –                             
        “You wasn’t there standing in my shoes”
       John Brown’s mother wanted a lot of medals to display on the wall, but she didn’t know the cruelty of that war. The mother realises the true character of war only when he returns after the war. He is reduced to a mere victim of the war, whose “face was all shot up and his hand was all blown off ,”  and wears a metal brace to support himself.
        His mother is so horrified to see his pathetic condition that she turns her face away from him. Her false Pride is shattered now.
      John Brown’s last act of asking his mother to come closer to him is not to show her love and affection but to “drop his medals down into her hand.” This shows that winning medals, at the cost of your own well being,is no achievement. Now she can understand that she had to pay a lot for those medals to display on the wall.
           In a war a man kills another man. All the soldiers fighting in the war ,though fighting on behalf of their respective countries, are themselves victims of the same war. Indeed,these soldiers who fight on the battlefield are pawns in the hands of war mongering administrators, who glorify war for their own interests. Through out  history, powerful and usually unaccountable leaders have made the decisions that send millions into war,often for reasons very distant from the concerns of Ordinary people. 
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